Bangkok-Chiang Rai route eyed by TVJA

Thai VietJet’s Airbus A320 at Suvarnabhumi airport. The no-frills budget airline seeks to spread its wings further next month.

Thai VietJet Air (TVJA) is pressing ahead with its network expansion plans, although its licence to operate commercial air service is still pending renewal.

The Thai offshoot of Vietnam’s low-cost carrier group, VietJet Air, aims to launch its fourth domestic route — Bangkok-Chiang Rai — with a twice-daily flight starting on Oct 29.

The launch of the Bangkok-Chiang Rai route heralds TVJA’s move to grow its offerings in and out of Thailand in the forthcoming winter season that typically starts at the end of October.

TVJA has made known its plan to serve Krabi and Hat Yai, as well international destinations in China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

But the launch of its international services is subject to having its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) recertified by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

Eleven Thai-registered airlines including TVJA have yet to see their AOCs re-issued by CAAT, which has banned them from flying abroad unless they get their permits re-certified.

AOC recertification is a crucial part of CAAT’s endeavour to get the country’s “red-flag” status from the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) over “significant safety concerns” lifted soon.

Ten Thai-registered carriers including major operators like Thai Airways International and Thai AirAsia have already had their AOCs recertified.

TVJA remains confident it will be able to re-certify its AOC next month, as stated earlier by CAAT director Chula Sukmanop.

That will immediately set into motion the major expansion efforts, a TVJA executive said yesterday.

TVJA’s Bangkok-Chiang Rai route did not feature earlier when the airline announced its expansion plans.

Industry analysts suggested that route forms part of “remedies” extended by CAAT for those airlines which the authority was unable to re-certify their AOCs by Aug 31 — the ambitious deadline set by CAAT to appease the ICAO.

Thai civil authorities had earlier allowed TVJA’s parent Vietnamese carrier to assume its sole international service — Bangkok-Hai Phong — on its behalf until it gets its AOC recertified.

TVJA currently operates three domestic routes — Bangkok-Phuket, Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Phuket-Chiang Rai — for which it ramped up frequencies this month.

It is the only carrier operating direct daily flights between Chiang Rai and Phuket.

TVJA started scheduled services in September 2016 with a fleet of three Airbus A320 jets.

The airline said it has transported 800,000 passengers so far.

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