New airline routes in Asia Paicfic from AirAsia, Jetstar, IndiGo and Vietjet to boost air travel in upcoming tourism season


Friday, June 28, 2024

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The Asia-Pacific airline industry is witnessing a significant expansion of short-haul networks, driven by low-cost operators like AirAsia, Jetstar, and Vietjet. These airlines are introducing new routes and enhancing connectivity, aiming to boost tourism and provide better travel experiences for passengers. This article explores the latest developments and the impact of these expansions on the Asia-Pacific region.

AirAsia Expands Thai Network

AirAsia, a major player in the low-cost airline industry, is set to launch flights between Kuala Lumpur and Chiang Rai later this year. This new route marks AirAsia’s seventh point in Thailand, further expanding its Thai network. The thrice-weekly flights to Chiang Rai will commence on November 2, 2024, following the recent resumption of flights from Kuala Lumpur to U-tapao airport near Pattaya.

In total, AirAsia operates nine direct flights between Malaysia and Thailand, linking its hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Johor Bahru with Thai cities like Bangkok, Hat Yai, and Chiang Mai. The airline’s expansion aims to cater to the growing demand for travel between these two countries, enhancing connectivity and boosting tourism.

Thai AirAsia’s New Fifth-Freedom Flights

Thai AirAsia has also announced new additions to its network, including fifth-freedom flights between Taiwan and Japan. On June 17, 2024, the airline commenced flights between Taipei and Okinawa, as well as Kaohsiung and Tokyo Narita. These flights originate from Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport, allowing the airline to tap into the strong travel demand between these destinations.

Thai AirAsia Chief Santisuk Klongchaiya highlights the significance of these new routes: “Carrying out stopovers to receive additional passengers is a new challenge for AirAsia but it has provided more opportunities to connect with a wider customer base in both Japan and Taiwan.” These new fifth-freedom flights are expected to strengthen the airline’s presence in the Japanese market and offer more travel options for passengers.

Indonesia AirAsia Launches Flights to Brunei

Indonesia AirAsia is expanding its network with the launch of flights to Brunei, making it the second AirAsia unit to fly to the small Southeast Asian nation. The thrice-weekly flights, set to commence on August 2, 2024, aim to enhance connectivity between Indonesia and Brunei, boosting tourist arrivals in both countries.

This expansion aligns with AirAsia’s strategy to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia, providing more travel options for passengers and promoting regional tourism.

Jetstar’s Major Expansion into New Zealand

Australia’s low-cost carrier Jetstar has revealed a “major expansion” into New Zealand, with new flights launching later this year between Cairns and Christchurch, as well as between Auckland and Sunshine Coast. Jetstar will also increase capacity on domestic routes in New Zealand, including Christchurch-Auckland and Auckland-Wellington, with further growth in its domestic operations expected in the next year.

Additionally, Jetstar will adjust flight times for routes between Christchurch and Melbourne, allowing for better connections to its long-haul network to Asia. This adjustment will provide better access to Jetstar’s flights between Melbourne and Asian destinations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Phuket, Singapore, and Bangkok, enhancing inbound tourism to New Zealand’s South Island.

Jetstar Asia Returns to Australian Operations

Jetstar Asia made a return to Australian operations on June 25, 2024, with the launch of seasonal flights between Singapore and Broome in Western Australia. The twice-weekly flights are the first scheduled services between the two cities, making Jetstar Asia the first international carrier to serve regional Western Australia. This new route is expected to boost tourism in both regions and provide new travel opportunities for passengers.

IndiGo and Akasa Air Eye Middle East Operations

In India, low-cost operators are also expanding their networks to the Middle East. IndiGo will increase its operations to the Saudi city of Jeddah, with an additional daily flight from its Mumbai hub starting on August 15, 2024. This ramp-up means IndiGo will operate two daily flights between Mumbai and Jeddah, enhancing connectivity and providing more travel options for passengers.

Compatriot Akasa Air launched flights between Mumbai and Riyadh, its third international destination, on June 15, 2024. Riyadh is also the airline’s second point in Saudi Arabia, following Jeddah, which it launched in May. These new routes are part of Akasa Air’s strategy to expand its presence in the Middle East and cater to the growing demand for travel between India and Saudi Arabia.

Vietjet’s New Routes to Taiwan

Vietnam’s Vietjet has launched flights between Phu Quoc, a popular beach destination, and the Taiwanese cities of Kaohsiung and Taichung. These new routes add to Vietjet’s growing list of connections between Taiwan and Vietnam, with the low-cost operator currently operating nine routes. This expansion aims to boost tourism and provide more travel options for passengers traveling between these destinations.

Intercontinental Flying Sees Record Air Travel

Apart from low-cost carriers, other Asia-Pacific operators are also ramping up their medium- and long-haul routes. China’s Hainan Airlines launched direct flights between Beijing and Prague on June 24, 2024, operated by Airbus A330s. This new route follows the commencement of flights from Shanghai Pudong to Brussels, Hainan’s third direct flight between China and the Belgian capital. Hainan Airlines also announced new flights between Beijing and the Mexican city of Tijuana, set to start on July 12, 2024.

China Eastern resumed operations between Wuhan and Singapore on June 21, 2024, a route it briefly operated between 2012 and 2014. The thrice-weekly flights are operated by Boeing 737s, enhancing connectivity between the two cities.

Vietnam Airlines launched daily flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Manila on June 17, 2024, making it the first Vietnamese operator to fly directly to the Philippines. The airline also launched flights between Hanoi and the Chinese city of Chengdu on June 26, 2024, as the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Vietnam steadily increases.

China Airlines will be adding fifth-freedom connections between Auckland and Melbourne in December 2024. The Taiwanese operator currently flies into Auckland via Brisbane and plans to increase its frequencies from five to six times a week by the end of the year.

Qantas and Jetstar are also set to commence operations to Vanuatu in September 2024. Qantas will fly thrice a week from Brisbane to Port Vila, and Jetstar will operate four weekly flights from Sydney. This expansion comes amid the collapse of flag carrier Air Vanuatu, which was a codeshare partner for Qantas.

Cathay Pacific is resuming seasonal flights to Cairns during the year-end holiday period, with the first flight commencing on December 17, 2024. The thrice-weekly flights will be operated by Cathay’s A330s, enhancing connectivity and providing more travel options for passengers during the peak holiday season.

The expansion of short-haul networks by Asia-Pacific low-cost operators like AirAsia, Jetstar, and Vietjet is set to enhance connectivity, boost tourism, and provide better travel experiences for passengers. These airlines are introducing new routes, increasing frequencies, and tapping into new markets, contributing to the growth of the airline industry in the region.

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