Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sunny Airways shines at charters

February 14, 2012 by Rapeepat Mantanarat

BANGKOK, 14 February 2012: Sunny Airways, Thailand’s newest airline, says it will concentrate on offering charters flights in North Asia to draw more tourists to Thailand.

Sunny Airways commenced charter operations, 18 January, with a weekly flight between Bangkok and Changchun, the largest city in China’s Jilin province with a population of 8 million.

The carrier has obtained a single B767-200ER leased from KMW Leasing in the United States. A second aircraft is expected to arrive in March. It plans to acquire a smaller B737 or a B757 to serve South China and Southeast Asian markets in the second half of the year.

Sunny Airways deputy managing director, Sakuntala Hattasan, told TTR Weekly: “We are a leisure charter airline, serving primarily tour operators and charter operators.”

“We look for opportunities in the markets that are not served by nonstop flights. However, we would like to work with outbound tour operators in Thailand, too,” she added.

Due to the high risks involved in setting up a new airline, the management decided to concentrate on charters that are sold to tour operators, who guarantee a minimum fare on all seats.

“The advantage is we get money first. There is no risk and no need for us to sell seats. It is also flexible. We can fly to various destinations bringing inbound tourists from places within the flying range as long as there are tour operators who can sell a package including the airline content.”

A long-term plan to use the B767, which has a range of up to 12 hours, would allow flights to China and Japan and it is possible that it could work with a tour operator in Germany to operate charter services from Frankfurt later this year.

In China, Ms Sakuntala said Sunny Airways will discuss options with tour operators in Harbin, Taiyuan and Tianjin.

Japan was the first option in the airline’s business plan last year, but that changed after the tsunami when the airline’s partner in Japan,suffered losses in the natural disaster.

But it is possible that charters from Thailand to Japan could be organised first, possibly to Sendai,or Narita as early as this April. There are also options to fly Japanese tourists to Siem Reap on the way.

The B767 is configured with two classes—18 in its so-called “comfort” class and 200, economy class.

Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and limited snacks will be served on short haul flights. On flights over 3.5 hours the airline will serve one or two complimentary meals (depends on flight time ) and non-alcoholic drinks. Snacks and alcoholic drinks are available for purchase on all flights over 2.5 hours.

On its website Sunny Airways says it intends to maintain their own aircraft up to the level of light maintenance, but during the early stages, maintenance is handled by Thai Airways International.

The airline was established 30 August 2010.

Source:  http://www.ttrweekly.com

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