Bangkok Airways is looking to further entrench its Indochina market position through new regional services, expand the number of codeshare partners, and enhance its non-airline businesses, as part of its business plan for 2019.
In terms of network, the carrier began Bangkok-Nha Trang service in January. This will be followed by Chiang Mai-Krabi and Chiang Mai-Luang Prabang services in March and April.
The Bangkok-Da Nang frequency will be doubled to twice-daily, and the Bangkok-Krabi route will see a fourth daily flight, all set to take place this month.
Having secured four new codeshare partners in 2018, the airline is expecting to sign two to three more codesharing agreements later this year.
For 2019, Bangkok Airways will add one A319 and two ATR 72-600s. Five ATR 72-500s will be phased out, leaving the carrier to operate 38 aircraft this year, a slight decline from the 40 aircraft it operated in 2018.
It is setting aside Bt1.82 billion ($57.1 million) to buy the two ATRs, acquire new spare parts, and embark on a two-year cabin refurbishment project on its Airbus A319s.
Aircraft proposals from Airbus and Boeing are now being reviewed, as it gears towards fleet commonality.
On the airport and MRO businesses, Bangkok Airways is investing Bt958 million to construct an MRO facility at Sukhothai airport, which it manages alongside Trat and Koh Samui. Another Bt334 million will be invested to further develop Trat airport and extend its runway.
Both Trat and Koh Samui saw increases in passenger numbers in 2018, while Sukhothai had a 1% decline.
Having previously sought to develop new airports in Thailand and unspecified neighbouring countries, the company is now waiting for regulatory approvals.
To stem fuel-related expenses, the airline has hedged around 53-74% of its fuel requirement this year, with an average hedging cost of $82-84.
Having flown nearly six million passengers in 2018, Bangkok Airways expects a 3% growth in passenger numbers in 2019. It also predicts passenger load factor to increase by 1.4 percentage points to 70% this year, and that passenger revenue is set to grow 3.5%, says its president and chief executive Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth.
In 2018, Bangkok Airways posted a 40% fall in its operating profit to Bt1.43 billion. Revenue declined 1.9% to Bt27.9 billion, while expenses rose 1.4% to Bt26.5 billion. Net profit plunged 68.4% to Bt249 million.