India is among worlds top markets

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Updated: Dec 10 2010, 16:28pm hrs
In the past few months a number of global carriers have either resumed or increased flight frequencies to Indian destinations. In one such move, Thai Airways also wants to ride the boom in air travel from India. The airline has currently consolidated its presence by adding three additional flights on the Mumbai-Bangkok route taking the number to 10.. In an interaction with FEs Shaheen Mansuri , the airline's regional director, central, south, South East Asia and Australia, Khun Krittaphon Chantalitanon says India is among the few countries that has been able to sustain growing outbound traffic.

How important is the Indian market to you

We, at Thai believe that India is among the worlds top markets. With the countrys huge population and enormous economic growth, having more flights to the country would stimulate both nations economy, and attract more Indian tourists to Thailand. Over 600,000 Indian tourists travelled to Thailand in 2009, bringing over 16 billion baht income to Thailand. In the first eight months of this year, Indian travellers to Thailand have increased by 20% year-on-year. We have introduced three new services on the Mumbai Bangkok sector, offering 10 weekly flights between the two destinations. Plans are in the pipeline to increase the frequency to 14 flights per week for Mumbai and Bengaluru and daily flights to Hyderabad by end of 2011. While we currently aim to consolidate our current operations, the airline is also exploring potential for operating on newer destinations.

Yet, there are other global carriers too which operate in India. Isn't competition fierce in the skies

Each airline operates with a different business model. There is intense competition on routes we operate, but yet we have come a long way in sustaining competition. There have been instances where airlines have sold below cost and had to either sell off or merge with rival airlines. Also, subsidising fares at the cost of bottomlines is not good for the industry. Also, we are a member of Star Alliance just like Kingfisher Airlines is a part of the 'oneworld' alliance and hopefully, Air India will also become a member of a global alliance by next year. We have code-sharing agreements with many international carriers which supports growth in each others business.

What are the critical issues for a start-up and prevalent global carrier in India

Each country is driven by different policies. We started off in India in 1960 with a maiden flight to Kolkatta and it took us 33 years of intense negotiation to expand to Mumbai. Also, the parking and navigation fee in India is nearly 10-15% higher then what is charged in Thailand. Sometimes, bureaucracy can delay things.

Have you exhausted your bilateral rights in India

Not yet. There is scope to increase flights to Mumbai and other cities as well. The airline is studying other profitable routes in India for expansion. We currently operate 56 flights from 8 most important cities in India Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata.