Vistara to add flights to Bangkok from Mumbai from Aug 05

Vistara – the TATA – SIA group JV, is adding flights to Bangkok. The announcement had come in early July while flights start August 05, 2022. The airline will operate five flights a week to Bangkok from Mumbai. The airline currently serves Bangkok from its Delhi hub. The airline will deploy its three-class A320neo on the route. 

The airline had launched flights to Bangkok on August 27, 2019. This was after the rights were re-distributed following the fall of Jet Airways in April 2019. This was the third international destination for the airline back then. The flights were suspended as the pandemic hit until they were restarted in the Summer schedule this year.

Flights will operate as per below timings

UK123 BOM0745 – 1335BKK

UK124 BKK1450 – 1740BOM

Flights to operate with three class A320neo

Days of Ops -Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Vistara does not have any partnerships with any of the airlines from Thailand and does the focus is on Origin – Destination traffic from Mumbai, in absence of a large international presence at Mumbai. 

Jet airways was a dominant player in the market with three flights a day. These not only catered to the OD crowd but also helped connect the airline’s network to GCC and Europe. This was in addition to double daily flights by Thai Airways and its subsidiary Thai Smile and a solitary flight by Bangkok Airways which had Mumbai as its sole destination in India.

Just before the fall of Jet Airways, airlines – starting with GoAir – looked beyond Bangkok and started flights to Phuket. The airline had announced large plans of connecting Phuket to ten destinations in India, which never materialised. IndiGo followed GoAir to Phuket. The overall India – Thailand market is much smaller right now than what it was pre-pandemic. But a foot in the door now would mean ability to scale up (subject to bilateral rights) when things normalise further.

Two airports serve Bangkok. The newer Suvarnabhumi Airport where Vistara and all other Indian carriers operate while the older Don Mueang airports is a low cost carrier airport being a hub for Thai AirAsia. Post pandemic, Thai AirAsia also has flights from Suvarnabhumi.

Air Services Agreement (ASA) and Competition

A sum of 26354 (+2%) seats each way per week are allowed to agreed points in India, which includes all metro cities. In addition, the ASA allows unlimited flights to 18 destinations in India – inline with all such ASA’s with ASEAN member countries.

Pre-COVID, the carriers from Thailand utilised their full quota while those from India had some seats available.

Charts based on data from DGCA

International flights may not be as competitive as domestic. Traffic rights and slots are the major hindrance in mounting last minute flights, but since the time Vistara announced flights and its time for the first flight – IndiGo has added capacity on the route by deploying the A321neo instead of the A320neo which was operating earlier. This would be an increase of 36 seats per day, each way.

Apart from IndiGo’s daily service from Mumbai, the airline will face competition from Thai Airways (Daily service) and Air India (twice weekly service).

Bangkok Airways has not returned post pandemic, while Thai VietJet will be a new entrant launching flights to Ahmedabad in September. Nok Scoot – which operated to Delhi went bust during the pandemic.

Network Thoughts

Vistara has to selectively look for sweet spots into the market. Thailand was one of the popular tourist magnets for Indians pre-COVID. Things have changed rapidly since then but it is unlikely that the destination will fall off radar. 

Vistara has a limited international presence from Mumbai. This includes flights to Jeddah, Dubai, Male, Singapore and now Bangkok. Except for Jeddah, the Bangkok flight does not connect to any other International destination. 

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