No-frills Thai Lion Air (TLA) is moving forward with a plan to spread its wings to China, as part of an accelerating international expansion.

The Thai subsidiary of Indonesia’s Lion Air Group is set to introduce its first Chinese destination, Guangzhou, with a daily flight from Oct 28.

TLA is finalising airport formalities for its Vietnamese debut with the start of a daily service to Ho Chi Minh City, expected to launch this month or in early November, an airline insider told the Bangkok Post.

The launch of Guangzhou and Ho Chi Minh City flights from TLA’s Don Mueang airport hub is consistent with the airline’s international network expansion. The most recent addition was Yangon in July.

TLA is set to become the second budget airline to serve China’s third-largest city from Don Mueang, vying against Thai AirAsia (TAA), which has offered a daily service on the route for some time.

The Guangzhou route marks the first time that TLA will operate scheduled flights to China. The carrier has flown charter flights to as many as nine other Chinese cities.

The insider said TLA’s decision to fly to Guangzhou was driven by rapidly growing leisure traffic demand on the route, built on the popularity of Thailand as a top destination for Chinese tourists.

“We are not necessarily competing with TAA, as traffic demand is growing fast and is large enough for us to share,” the insider said.

TLA is offering a limited number of promotional one-way tickets starting from 1,580 baht, inclusive of airport tax and fees, with a free baggage allowance of 30 kilogrammes.

Meanwhile, TLA is working on adding a few more Chinese cities for regular flights to its 2017 expansion plan, but they have not yet disclosed specifics.



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