ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai floods not impacting Malaysian airlines
The impact of the floods in Thailand will be very minimal to both Malaysian carriers Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia as the number of flights they operate to Bangkok is limited, said analysts.
“But there is a theory that holidaymakers thinking of travelling to Thailand may now want to divert to other areas including Malaysia. It is a theory that is difficult to prove but if it happens, it would be positive for the local airports.
“During the Red Shirt political protest there was some diversion and Malaysia registered some growth in tourist arrivals,’’ said the analyst.
Thus far, both MAS and AirAsia said they had not cancelled any flights as they fly into Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok which is still operating despite the flooding in the city.
However, the domestic terminal, Don Muang airport, located in northern Bangkok has been closed as it has been submerged since Tuesday.
MAS now flies five times daily to Bangkok, with AirAsia doing six flights. Other destinations in Thailand are not affected by the floods.
However, Thai AirAsia has seen some cancellations in bookings and its CEO Tassapon Bijleveld said in a report that extensive flooding in Thailand has led to about 15 percent of Chinese tourists cancelling their bookings.
Many governments including Malaysia have issued alerts to their citizens to avoid travelling into Thailand because of the floods which are expected to go on for some weeks.
The damage to the aviation sector is not known at this point but some analysts are worried that travel will be affected. Citibank has warned in its research report that the negative impact of the floods in Thailand should not be underestimated.
It expects overall air traffic growth in Thailand to decline by 15 percent-25 percent in the fourth quarter of this year versus the third quarter, but anticipates a soft rebound from the first quarter of next year onwards as international traffic normalises despite being dragged by continued weakness in domestic traffic.
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