Asian LCCs Develop Long-haul Markets

Aug. 02--After embracing the low-cost-carrier (LCC) concept, Asian carriers are looking to move into the medium- and long-haul air travel markets.

LCCs want to expand their networks to connect better with the rapidly growing travel markets of East, Southeast and South Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Although LCCs originated in Europe and North America to connect to destinations within four hours' flying time, Asian LCCs are adapting the model for locations up to eight hours apart.

This enables cost-conscious Asian travellers to fly to new destinations for which flights were either previously unavailable or priced too high, according to a new travel report by British aviation information provider OAG Aviation Worldwide.

Asia's pioneering low-cost, long-haul carriers such as AirAsia X, Jetstar Airways, Jetstar Asia and Scoot are being joined by Thai AirAsia X, NokScoot (both based in Bangkok) and Indonesia AirAsia X, while China's Spring Airlines and Cebu Pacific from the Philippines are beginning to move into the sector.

More airlines seem likely to follow in the coming years as Asia's air market expands further, said the report, entitled "Generation X: Long-Haul Low Cost Comes of Age".

It said the Asia-Pacific air market was still evolving, and although LCC growth had been slow in China, it would be pivotal to the future development of the sector.

OAG analysed the region's top 20 country pair markets for total seat capacity between June 2010 and June 2014, and China features in eight of the fastest growing routes.

The average annual growth in seat capacity between Australia and China was 11.4%, while 20% capacity growth was recorded between China and Thailand.

Further room for LCC expansion is evident, with only three routes from China ? Shanghai-Singapore (ranked 5th), Bangkok-Shanghai (19th) and Beijing-Singapore (23rd) ? listed in OAG's Top 25 of low-cost, long-haul routes in Asia-Pacific.

The other top routes are: Bangkok-Seoul, Perth-Sydney, Singapore-Sydney, Singapore-Taipei, Hong Kong-Tokyo, Seoul-Singapore, Melbourne-Singapore, Bangkok-Tokyo (Narita), Kuala Lumpur-Melbourne, Manila-Tokyo, Perth-Singapore, Brisbane-Perth, Tokyo (Haneda)-Singapore, Jakarta-Hong Kong, Brisbane-Singapore, Tokyo (Narita)-Singapore, Bali-Hong Kong, Bangkok-Tokyo (Haneda), Kuala Lumpur-Sydney, Kuala Lumpur-Taipei, Hong Kong-Sydney and Chennai-Singapore.

To support expansion of the regional LCC sector, new airport infrastructure is being developed.

Earlier this year Malaysia opened its new airport in Kuala Lumpur to serve mainly budget airlines, and some 3.4 billion people live within eight hours of the Malaysian capital, the report said.

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