THAI celebrates 55 years of excellence
For 55 glorious years, Thai Airways International has been the global representative of Thailand and its values across international skies. Due to its world-class services and popularity, THAI has expanded its wings across India and has been awarded with several honours. THAI has consistently worked to be the first choice carrier with touches of Thai and creating highest value for customers through seamless travel experience.
THAI has been recently awarded “Most Admired Brand of Asia”; “The Best Airline Asia”, January 2015 by World Consulting & Research Corporation (WCRC), the Best On-board Service (International Airline), September 2014 awarded by Today’s Traveller and the On Time Airline-International, May 2014 received at the BIAL Pinnacle Awards ceremony.
In order to gain an insight into its successful business operations in India, Harsha Hazarika, Economic Assistant of the Royal Thai Embassy, New Delhi, had a tête-à-tête over a cuppa with Mr. Korakot Chatasingha, General Manager-Thai Airways India on 21 May 2015.
- Sir, would you kindly enlighten us about the origin of the Thai Airways business operations in India and trace it to its current status?
Started its operations to India in 1960 with one destination- Kolkata ,Thai Airways now flies to Bangkok from 8 cities in India – Delhi , Mumbai, Kolkata Bangalore, Chennai , Hyderabad, Varanasi and Gaya making it 52 flights per week plus seasonal flights from Gaya and Varanasi. From its hub at Suvarnabhumi Airport, THAI flies across 5 Continents to 70 destinations in 30 countries, using a fleet of more than 100 aircrafts. THAI is a founding member of the Star Alliance.
- How has the business performance been in the Indian market?
India is a growing economy and all service providers are growing along with it. We have seen consistent growth and expansion in India. THAI has successfully made 8 service points in India and established itself commercially since its first operations. The average Cabin Factor in 2014 was running at 75-80% (All India) and there is constant improvement which is the reason why we are planning to add more flights to our operations.
In keeping with the prospect of a robust economic growth and extremely positive scenario in India for the next 5 years, THAI will capitalize on the immense opportunity which India will offer to the aviation industry. THAI will look at a systematic growth in capacity by augmenting flights on the existing metro routes and also start new destinations. THAI is targeting approx. 100 flights from India to Thailand by year 2021.
- How many passengers travel annually by Thai Airways?
We serve approximately 9, 00,000 plus passengers in a year from India.
- So, these passengers fly only from India to Thailand and vice versa?
Thailand is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Indians and a large percentage of outbound travel from India is bound for Bangkok and other cities in Thailand such as Pattaya, Phuket, and increasingly Chiang Mai. As THAI is Thailand’s national carrier, it is naturally the first choice for travelling to the Kingdom. Apart from Thailand, THAI is also a popular choice for connections to top destinations in South East Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. The ratio between passengers travelling to Thailand and those connecting to other countries is approximately 70:30.
- Thai Airways has been present in India for 55 years. What factors have allowed Thai Airways to remain such a prominent player in the Indian aviation market?
THAI is known for its humble Royal Orchid Service. We take extra effort to offer customized services as per the passengers’ requirements. This includes meal planning, entertainment, crew, on line offices and web services.
Our product, service, alliances and constant endeavour to offer best value for money to our customers continue to give us the edge over our competitors.
Our competitive advantages include:
1) Reliable and quality product.
2) Convenient network connections
3) World class service
4) On time performance
5) Constant upgrade of services and equipments.
- Recently, new airlines, like Vistara, started operating, and also Etihad invested in Jet Airways. Has these developments increased the level of competition? How is Thai Airways addressing these challenges?
Competition is always a part of any healthy business environment. In order to stay competitive with strong and sustainable growth amidst rapid changes, the Company works around our 3 core values:
1) Focus on customer satisfaction
2) Being cost-effective
3) Being highly dynamic
- What are the challenges you face in running your business in India? How do you address them?
I believe the tax regulations pose the stiffest challenge while conducting business operations in India. In order to comply with all rules and regulations, I ensure that my organization receives advice from best financial experts.
- How do feel about the current Indian administration under Prime Minister Modi? How has it affected your business?
Prime Minister Modi has ushered in a positive environment for the Indian economy. Due to his efforts, various foreign investors are looking keenly into the Indian market. At the micro level, I appreciate his efforts in attempting to simplify tax norms. Moreover, his vision to increase India’s rank in the Ease of Doing Business index will create a better environment for business.
For the aviation sector, I appreciate his efforts in reducing the cost of doing business. Reduction in exorbitant fee structure and surcharges to operate in new airports will encourage airlines to increase their business in India.
Furthermore, I am keenly following the 100 Smart Cities initiative by Prime Minister Modi. Efficient connectivity will be a key trait of these cities, which would eventually lead to development of more airports and, hence, more opportunities for us.
- Sir, you have been in India since October 2012? What do you enjoy most about living in India?
India is a very diverse and a rich nation. I am inspired by its natural beauty and rich heritage. Indian cuisine is globally popular and I am enamored by it..Yes!! I love Indian food. Every region of India offers its own unique cuisine. But if I have to choose one dish then it has to be Briyani. I am a “Briyani-Lover.”
I have travelled extensively within India, but it has been mostly for work. If I have to choose an Indian destination for my vacation then it has to be Kolkata. The city has a unique character to it, a blend of historical existence with modernity. Also, the city is blessed with greenery and its climate reminds me of Thailand.
- What advice would you like to give to interested Thai firms which are planning to enter the Indian market?
In the last few years, India fell into an economic slumber. But now, it is one of the most promising economies among the emerging nations. I think the Indian economy will become more vibrant in the years to come. Hence, my advice to all interested Thai firms would be to keep their finger on the pulse of the Indian market, in order to gain a comprehensive insight about the policies and direction of the Indian government.
Moreover, the availability of an enormous skilled manpower pool will enable the Thai firms to meet their business objectives.
Over the years, Thailand and India have shared strong cultural and religious bonds. I think that in the coming years, the friendship can grow stronger through the medium of business.
Though being 55 years old, THAI remains young and vibrant in its vision. Its constant desire to raise its own level of performance, serves as an example. The airline has also demonstrated its ability to comprehend emerging trends of opportunities as well as challenges and harness it to its advantage.
Given its performance record, it would be safe to say that in the years to come, Thai Airways would be gliding through the Indian skies as Smooth as Silk as it has done around the world in the past 55 years.
10 June 2015