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The Impact of Low Cost Airlines to Airline Industry

: An Experience of Thailand

Komsan Suriya
Faculty of Economics,
Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai

The deregulation of the airline industry of Thailand has allowed three low cost airlines (LCAs) to operate in domestic routes. This study explored the impact of LCAs to three stakeholders in the airline industry, full-service airlines, airports and passengers. The main question posed was who gained or lost from LCAs. Through answering the question, the demand for airline industry was estimated. The change in revenue of airlines and airports were considered as private benefits. The change in consumer?s surplus, the amount of money that passengers were willing to pay for the airfare but did not pay, was regarded as the social benefit. A comparison of benefits between the expansion and recession periods of the airline industry was also examined. Moreover, the change in traveling patterns from Thailand to Laos was also investigated. This study proved that, in the expansion period, LCAs were not harmful to full-service airlines. In turn, they were important to the growth of the industry. However in the recession period, LCAs were growing at the expense of full-service airlines. For passengers, consumer surplus was increased in the expansion period but decreased in the recession period due to higher airfare. Airports gained in both the expansion and recession periods. LCAs encouraged tourists to change their traveling pattern from Thailand to Laos via an indirect route, Bangkok - Udorn Thani - Nongkai - the Friendship Bridge instead of the direct route from Bangkok to Vientiane.

Key words: Low Cost Airlines (LCAs), Airline Industry, Consumer?s Surplus, Tourism, Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS)

Paper presented in the seminar on Mekong tourism: Learning across borders II,
1-3 June 2006 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, organized by Social Research Institute, Chiang Mai University.

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