Five low-cost carriers that should be on your radar

27 Nov 2013 by Clement Huang

The low-cost carrier business model is becoming increasingly popular in the global aviation industry, and Asia in particular is seeing many such airlines popping up. These are a few that have just launched, or are about to take off in the near future. Many of them are offshoots from established regional carriers. For an in-depth report on worldwide LCCs, and to find out whether the business model can go long-haul, check out Business Traveller Asia-Pacific's December issue when it hits the stands next week. 


OPERATION DATE October 27, 2013

STARTING FLEET Five Airbus A320s

HUB Hong Kong International Airport

INFO Hong Kong Express has completed its transition into a low-cost carrier, and has commenced daily operations to Chiang Mai, Penang, Sabah, Kunming, Phuket, Taichung, Tokyo Haneda and Osaka Kansai. The carrier currently operates a fleet of five A320 aircraft but this is expected to grow by the end of next year. While Hong Kong Express is the first locally managed low-cost carrier in Hong Kong, it could face competition from Jetstar Hong Kong, who despite the formal objection filed by Cathay Pacific (see here), is still expected to get its license to operate in the territory.



STARTING FLEET Three Airbus A320s

HUB Chennai International Airport

INFO Plans for the new low-cost carrier took off in late 2012 when Air Asia sought to capitalise on the relaxing of India’s investment policy, which allows foreign companies to hold up to 49 per cent of equity within a local Indian business. This was soon followed by Air Asia establishing joint venture with India’s Tata Sons and Telstra Tradeplace. According to a report in The Economic Times, the airline looks set to get an air operator’s permit in January, 2014. Air Asia India has hired 300 staff for starting operations, and will initially focus on services to second- and third-tier cities in India.


OPERATION DATE December 2013

STARTING FLEET Two Boeing 737-900ERs

HUB Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok

INFO Thai Lion Air is a joint venture between Indonesia’s Lion group and a yet-to-be-revealed Thai partner. The low-cost airline will initially fly to three destinations: Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. It will also be the first carrier in Thailand to operate the Boeing 737-300ER, which features an all-economy configuration with 215 seats. According to Thai Lion Air’s chief executive Darsito Hendro Seputro, the carrier will add another eight B737-900ERs to its fleet in 2014.



STARTING FLEET Two or three Airbus A320/A321s

HUB Unknown, but it is likely to serve from Trans Asia’s hub in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

INFO The budget airline market in Mainland China and Taiwan remains at a nascent stage compared to many other Asian regions. Shanghai’s Spring Airlines is the only China-operated no-frills carrier, while 12 foreign budget airlines offer services to and from Taiwan. The proposed low-cost carrier by Trans Asia Airways will serve to satisfy the growing demand for cheap travel there between, and according to a report by Channel News Asia, the Taiwanese airline will spend around NT$3 billion (US$100 million) to bring that vision to life. The company has since launched a campaign to invite the public to name the new low-cost carrier.    



STARTING FLEET Two to three Airbus A320s

HUB Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

INFO Thai Viet Jet is a subsidiary of Vietnamese low-cost carrier Viet Jet Air. The Thai-based carrier is jointly owned by Kan Air (51 per cent) and Viet Jet Air (49 per cent), and will launch its first flights between Thailand and Vietnam in early 2014. While little information exists thus far, reports indicate that Thai Viet Jet will be based out of Suvarnabhumi Airport instead of the less congested Don Mueang, and that the start-up fleet will consist of two to three A320s.

Clement Huang

Loading comments...

Search Flight

See a whole year of Reward Seat Availability on one page at

Business Traveller UK September 2023 edition
Business Traveller UK September 2023 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below