Air Italy, a privately-owned airline, has started flights on the Bangkok-Milan route to cash in on tourism growth and capture greater market share from Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) and other carriers operating between Singapore and Italy.
This is the first Italian airline to fly to Thailand. Flights commenced on Monday but plans are afoot to have four a week using Airbus A330-200s.
A Bangkok Post report stated that Rossen Dimitrov, Air Italy’s customer experience officer, said there is high demand for the route as many vacationers, retirees and business travellers from Italy and Europe want to visit Thailand, with many Thais also keen to visit Europe.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported 6.5 million visitors from Europe to Thailand last year, a 5.45 per cent gain year-on-year. Travellers from Russia, the UK, and Germany had the largest tallies, at 1.34 million, 994,460, and 849,280 visitors, respectively. There were 264,430 visitors from Italy.
Opening the new route with competitive prices just ahead of the high season gives Air Italy confidence it can gain market share from only other airline on the route, THAI. Air Italy also aims to compete with other airlines operating from Singapore to Paris or Milan. “For Thailand, we will increase frequencies from four to five flights per week this winter, maybe up to daily service in the future,” Dimitrov said. He said Milan is the key connecting city to other destinations in Italy including Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme.
Mr Dimitrov said the expansion into Thailand is part of the airline’s global expansion. By 2022, the airline aims to have 50 aircraft and is already committed to receiving 20 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft models from May 2018 through the next three years. Air Italy wants to carry 10 million passengers per year by 2022, of which more than 8 million will be to or from Milan Malpensa.
The airline was rebranded from Meridiana, a long-established private airline from that country. In February, it announced a new phase of growth and development as well as its new name Air Italy.