Lao Airlines takes extra competition on board
Lao Airlines says that allowing overseas carriers like Thai AirAsia and SilkAir to fly into Laos will have a positive impact and promote competition under the Asean Open Skies policy.
Thai AirAsia plans to start flights to Laos in July, operating daily services between Vientiane and Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, according to the airline's schedule listed on its website.
SilkAir also recently confirmed that it will begin services to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in October. The airline will operate three flights a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and will be the eighth foreign airline group to serve Laos.
Lao Airlines is facing stiffer competition thanks to the Asean Open Skies policy.
When this service begins, SilkAir and its parent airline, Singapore Airlines, will together fly to all 10 countries in Asean.
Lao Airlines officials said that allowing more foreign carriers into Laos also means Lao Airlines can increase its flights to other countries.
The Airport Management Department reported that in 2014-15, Laos-owned airlines recorded 24,895 domestic flights, an increase of 101.2 percent over the previous fiscal year.
Foreign carriers landed 25,578 flights in Laos, an increase of 100.3 percent.
Lao Airlines officials said the increased inflow of foreign flights into the country will bring in more revenue, mostly in the form of air transport charges and landing fees.
It will also help to spur the growth of the tourist industry in Laos. Lao Airlines Vice President Mr Sengpraseuth Mathouchanh told the Lao Economic Daily that opening up for the free movement of Asean carriers would of course present a challenge to Lao Airlines due to the increased competition.
But he added that Lao Airlines looks at this as an opportunity to improve its service standards and differentiate itself from low cost airlines.
A Lao Airlines official said that currently the airline has 15 aircraft - four MA60 with 56 seats each, seven ATR72-500 and 600 series with 70 seats each, and four Airbus A320-214 with 158 seats, which fly to six domestic and 15 international destinations.
The airline recorded some 530,000 passengers in 2011 and more than 600,000 in 2012, rising to more than 1 million in 2014. The national carrier now has more than 70 ticketing agents in Vientiane and the provinces as well as more than 400 overseas.
Lao Airlines has agreements with Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Qantas Airways, Silk Air, China Airlines, Korean Airlines and Eva Airways, along with interline agreements with Hahn Air, Aeroflot Russian Airlines, and Heli Air Monaco.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 14, 2016)