Bangkok – Hamburg’s low-hanging fruit

The Elbphilharmonie – Although HAM is a very liveable city, many Hamburgers love to travel to Bangkok in winter.

Jörgen Kearsley, GM Aviation Marketing at Hamburg Airport, finds it “a little incongruous” that there is no direct flight between Hamburg and Bangkok. With 96,000 passengers flying the route last year, and having to change aircraft at least once to do so, we are inclined to agree. Bangkok is Hamburg’s low-hanging fruit as it is the largest international offline market. And the fruit is growing – passenger numbers increased by 3.2% in 2018 and by 34% over the last five years.

To put this into perspective, only Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf have more Bangkok-bound passengers each year, and Berlin has slightly less. Frankfurt and Munich already have direct services to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi. Of the three offline cities – Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Berlin – Hamburg has the most potential. Berlin has direct flights to Singapore and Beijing. So does Düsseldorf, along with a direct Tokyo service and two middle eastern connections (Dubai and Abu Dhabi). Hamburg, in comparison, has only one obvious route to the Asia-Pacific, and that is via Dubai.

On average, more than 260 passengers fly between Hamburg and Bangkok every day, peaking at over 330 per day in the colder months between November and March and for the summer school holidays in July.

BKK is a strong leisure market from HAM: 79% travel to BKK to see the Buddah statues and the beaches.

Jörgen and his team envisage a service on the route starting with four weekly flights for the winter months, possibly expanding to a daily operation once the market matures. A three to four times weekly summer service may be an option further down the line.

“Bangkok would be an ideal gateway for northern German holiday-makers, who constitute 78% of passenger volume to this very popular holiday region,” says Jörgen. “With no direct service between Hamburg and Asia at present, and strong outgoing performance, this market offers enormous potential.”

Looking at traffic beyond Bangkok, the market’s potential is easy to see. The top 15 Asia-Pacific destinations recorded more than 280,000 passengers in 2018. As Jörgen explains: “Any airline moving into the Hamburg-Bangkok space would be tapping a market of almost 100,000 final destination passengers, and not too far short of double this potential for connecting services. With no direct competition.”

Included in those possibilities for connecting services are: Hong Kong, with 41,000 passengers and 4.4% growth in 2018; Seoul Incheon, with 20,000 passengers and 5.7% growth; Phuket, with almost 19,000 passengers and 29.8% growth; and Manila, with over 16,000 passengers and stable. Hanoi, Denpasar, Auckland and Taipei are all growing markets too, with between 8,000 and 11,000 passengers each in 2018 and a combined growth rate of 6.6%.

“A little incongruous” is perhaps an example of Hamburg’s famous understatement. It really is astonishing that a route with this much potential, from an airport already serving over 17 million passengers a year, is still offline.

Jörgen Kearsley, GM Aviation Marketing at Hamburg Airport, finds it “a little incongruous” that there is no direct flight between Hamburg and Bangkok, with 96,000 passengers flying between the two last year.

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