Growth has particularly accelerated over the past five years, driven partially by the late 2013 launch and rapid expansion of Thai Lion Air.
Thailand has six low cost airlines operating a combined fleet of 136 aircraft, according the CAPA Fleet Database. LCCs account for 45% of Thailand’s total commercial aircraft fleet and over 60% of the narrowbody fleet.
Five years ago, in May-2013, there were only 42 LCC aircraft based in Thailand, including 28 at Thai AirAsia and 14 at Nok Air. Over the past five years the LCC fleet has more than tripled in size, and the total commercial fleet has increased by 50%.
Thailand LCC fleet size (number of aircraft in service) by airline: past five years
|Thai Lion Air||N/A||5||10||20||25||32|
|Thai AirAsia X||N/A||N/A||3||6||6||7|
|Overall Thailand Total||200||241||246||272||279||304|
LCCs account for nearly 50% of traffic at Airports of Thailand
In 2017 LCCs accounted for 47% of total passenger traffic at the six airports in the Airports of Thailand (AOT) portfolio. In 2013 LCCs accounted for only a 32% share at the same six airports: Bangkok Don Mueang, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai and Phuket.
LCC traffic has increased by 120% over the past four years, while total AOT traffic has increased by 51%. Total traffic has increased by 45 million annual passengers, with LCCs accounting for 34 million of these passengers.
Don Mueang is now the world’s largest LCC airport and will surpass 40 million LCC passengers in 2018. The airport handled 37 million LCC passengers in 2017, compared to less than 16 million in 2013.
Don Mueang to get new terminal by 2021
The Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) has decided to demolish Don Mueang International Airport’s old terminal and build a new one to accommodate soaring international passenger numbers.
According to AoT data, the number of international passengers rose by 20.8% last year compared to only a 2.6% increase in domestic passengers.
Designing Terminal 3 will take 10 months to complete and building it a further two years. Scheduled to open in 2021, the terminal will be able to service 40 million passengers a year, Wg Cdr Suthirawat said.