Thai Lion Air becomes latest Lion Air joint venture

Thai Lion Air held a major launch event at Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport on 4 December. The AirAsia group of airlines and Nok Air are already well established at the airport, so competition will be fierce for the newcomer.

AirAsia’s dominance of the low-cost market in several Asian markets is being increasingly challenged by Indonesia’s Lion Air, which launched a Kuala Lumpur-based joint venture (Malindo Air) in March 2013, and has now ventured into the Thai market with the creation of Thai Lion Air. Basing itself at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport (DMK), the airline operated its first flight, a domestic service to Chiang Mai (CNX), on 4 December. Before Christmas it launched its first international flights to Jakarta (CGK) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL). Although the Jakarta service began with two daily flights, in early January this was reduced to one daily flight, while frequency on the Chiang Mai service was increased to four daily flights.

Two 737-900s currently operating six return flights

The airline’s fleet currently comprises two 215-seat 737-900ERs, with a further two 189-seat 737-800s set to join the fleet in February. Analysis of the airline’s current schedule indicates that neither aircraft is currently based in Thailand, with one aircraft being ‘flown in’ from Jakarta, and the other from Kuala Lumpur.

Aircraft 1 Aircraft 2
CGK 06:20 – 10:00 DMK KUL 07:55 – 09:05 DMK
DMK 11:20 – 12:35 CNX DMK 10:20 – 11:35 CNX
CNX 13:20 – 14:35 DMK CNX 12:20 – 13:35 DMK
DMK 15:40 – 16:55 CNX DMK 14:30 – 15:45 CNX
CNX 17:35 – 18:50 DMK CNX 16:25 – 17:40 DMK
DMK 19:35 – 23:15 CGK DMK 19:50 – 23:50 KUL
Source: Thai Lion Air booking tool for Tuesday 7 January 2014

With neither aircraft currently based in Bangkok, the airline’s four daily flights to Chiang Mai are all bunched quite close together, with departures from Bangkok at 10:20, 11:20, 14:30 and 15:40 and departures from Chiang Mai at 12:20, 13:20, 16:25 and 17:35. Normally offering four daily flights would be seen as an attempt to attract business passengers who may want to make a day trip, but this schedule makes this virtually impossible. However, it does allow Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta based passengers the chance to make a day trip to Bangkok.


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