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Air Asia Makes Phuket Their New Thai HUB

Southeast Asia’s largest low-cost air carrier is turning Phuket into its second hub in Thailand in a move that will supports its plan to open new routes linking the resort island directly with other Asian cities.Phuket is considered very important to AirAsia, along with Medan in Indonesia’s North Sumatra, Bandung in West Java and Penang in Malaysia. In all these places it will set up bases as part of its aggressive expansion.

The base in Phuket which is scheduled to be up and running in the second half of the year, will serve as a springboard for the carrier to embark on new flights from the island to destinations in China and Hong Kong initially.

‘Having a hub in Phuket means you can operate more new routes using Phuket as a base, and bring in more traffic from overseas’ AirAsia’s regional head of commercial flights said in an interview.

The plan requires its Thai sister airline, Thai AirAsia, to hire ground staff, engineers for jet maintenance and initially to keep at least one aircraft on standby.

Phuket is one of AirAsia’s top airports of call, in terms of traffic volume, and the no-frills carrier intends to further exploit the potential of the budget-conscious travel segment.

Amazingly, passenger volume through Phuket International Airport was slightly higher year-on-year with an increase of 0.46%. One can only imagine what Phuket’s international airport passenger traffic would have been if Thailand did not have last year’s political turmoil, including the temporarily closure of Bangkok’s two airports.

However, international passenger traffic last year rose 10% to 2,4 million, underlining Phuket’s international popularity, while domestic numbers shrank with 5,48% to 3,32 million, according to figures from Airports of Thailand Plc.

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