Low-cost carrier Thai AirAsia X has chosen Brisbane as its first Australian destination, with flights to begin in June 2019.
Brisbane Airport announced on Thursday Thai AirAsia X would serve the Queensland capital four times a week from its hub at Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport.
The flights, on board Airbus A330-300s configured with 12 premium seats in a 2-2-2 layout and 365 economy seats at nine abreast, have been scheduled as an overnight service from Don Mueang and a midday departure from Brisbane.
“This new route to Brisbane will not only increase traffic between Thailand and Queensland, but importantly provide guests with a low-cost option to explore Bangkok and the more than 130 destinations found in AirAsia’s network,” AirAsia X Group chief executive Nadda Buranasiri said in a statement.
Thai AirAsia X will be the second airline offering nonstop flights between Brisbane and Thailand alongside national flag carrier Thai Airways, which has a four times weekly Brisbane-Bangkok Suvarnabhumi service with Boeing 787s.
Thai Airways had previously offered daily flights on the Brisbane-Bangkok Suvarnabhumi route. However, it was cut to four times weekly as part of a wider reduction in the airline’s capacity in the Australian market.
The airline also reduced Sydney to daily, from 11 times a week, while Melbourne went from 14 flights a week to 11. Perth-Bangkok was unchanged at seven flights a week.
An analysis from CAPA – Centre for Aviation’s Blue Swan Daily website showed the frequency reductions and aircraft downgauge on some routes represented a cut in Thai Airways’ capacity to Australia of about 30 per cent.
Further, it would be the first time in more than a decade that Thai Airways would have less than one million seats a year to Australia.
“This marks the lowest capacity level in Australia for Thai Airways since 2006, when capacity was cut due to civil unrest in Bangkok, which impacted inbound demand,” the research note dated October 9 2018 said.
Blue Swan Daily said the Thai Airways decision to cut capacity to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney likely reflected a shift in strategy to reduce its reliance on sixth freedom transit traffic.
“The new schedule will result in reduced connectivity beyond Bangkok, impacting sixth freedom traffic in both cabins,” it said.
“Local traffic between Australia and Thailand may not be significantly impacted as Thai is not pulling out of any market entirely.
“Sixth freedom traffic is generally lower yielding, and this segment has become extremely competitive in Australia due to aggressive expansion by other foreign airlines.”
Meanwhile, Emirates announced recently it was dropping its Sydney-Bangkok-Dubai rotation from May 2019.
Currently, Qantas flies daily between Sydney and Bangkok with Airbus A330 equipment, while its low-cost carrier unit Jetstar has three nonstop routes – Melbourne-Bangkok, Melbourne-Phuket and Sydney-Phuket – that are operated with Boeing 787-8s.
Brisbane Airport said it secured the new service from Thai AirAsia X with the support of the Queensland government’s attracting aviation investment fund and Brisbane Marketing.
“Thailand is an aspirational destination for Australians and one of Brisbane Airport’s largest underserved markets, so AirAsia’s quality low fare flight options direct into the heart of Bangkok is sure to be very popular with travellers,” Brisbane Airport chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff said.
“We are excited to welcome AirAsia to the Brisbane Airport family and look forward to supporting and contributing to the success of these services.”
Thai AirAsia X will the first of the AirAsia X group of carriers to fly to Brisbane, with Malaysia AirAsia X having served Gold Coast Airport from Kuala Lumpur since 2007. It currently offers international flights from Bangkok Don Mueang to China, Japan and South Korea.
Indonesia AirAsia X did operate from Bali to Melbourne and Sydney in 2015. However, the services lasted about 18 months before they were cancelled.
Days of operation
Time of departure
Time of arrival
Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday
Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday