Thai Lion Air is considering expanding its regional flight network into Indonesia, with a view to meeting the growing demand for multi-nation stops in ASEAN, particularly from the Chinese market.
Captain Darsito Hendroseputro, who is Thai Lion Air’s managing director, recently met with Indonesia’s Tourism Minister, Arief Yahya, at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC) event in Bangkok, to discuss adding new flight routes from Thailand to secondary locations across Indonesia, in particular the city of Solo in Central Java.
The minister confirmed that supply of flights to the region has not yet met the demand among international tourists, or reached the capacity offered by the city’s airport. “There are still landing slots available for international flights [in Solo],” said Arief. Following the meeting, Darsito agreed to organise new flights to fill the vacant landing slots in both Don Mueang International Airport in Thailand, and Adisumarmo International Airport in Solo.
The move is expected to be mutually beneficial for both nations; Thailand stands to gain from the number of travellers attracted to Indonesian locations, while Indonesia can tap into the existing mass market of travellers in Thailand. As Arief Yahya explained at the meeting, The Land of Smiles welcomed 30 million foreign tourists last year alone, of whom 10 million were from China. With flights to Jakarta taking only three hours from Bangkok and around four hours to Bali, the two nations’ close proximity offers an ideal opportunity for collaboration and expansion into a shared demographic.
Echoing the stance of the Indonesian Minister, Thai Lion Air’s Darsito confirmed a new trend among Chinese tourists is to travel to more than one country or city. From the 10 million Chinese tourists visiting Thailand each year, he is confident that many would find travel to Central Java attractive.
Thai Lion Air currently flies to 12 cities in China, with services operated by a fleet of 28 aircraft. The newly proposed Indonesian leg of the journey is expected to offer greater variety to the Chinese market and further expand the number of Chinese arrivals to Thailand.