* Targets 12.6 mln passengers rather than 13.3 mln
* To take delivery of five planes instead of eight
* Advanced booking numbers have started to rise
(Adds executive comments, China routes, context, shares)
BANGKOK, July 28 Thailand's Asia Aviation Pcl
has lowered the year's passenger target for budget
carrier Thai AirAsia to 12.6 million from 13.3 million due to
the impact of the country's political crisis.
Thai AirAsia, like other domestic carriers, suffered a
slowdown in inbound tourists since the onset of anti-government
protests late last year. Advanced booking numbers have only
recently started to rise since the assumption of military rule.
Expectations of fewer passengers, however, prompted the
carrier to take delivery of just five aircraft this year from a
targeted eight, Director of Commercial Operations Suntisuk
Klongchaiya told reporters on Monday.
The airline's cabin factor - the proportion of available
seats sold - could be more than 80 percent but is unlikely to
exceed the 83 percent of last year, Suntisuk said.
"Passenger growth was cut down to 15-20 percent from an
earlier target of 30 percent as we faced a drop in passenger
numbers especially from China in the first two quarters."
Even so, the number of Chinese passengers is likely to rise
20 percent this year, Suntisuk said.
Thai AirAsia planned to open two routes to China where
demand could increase after the military government waived visa
fees for travellers from China and Taiwan for three months.
Routes to China carry about 20 percent of the airline's
total passengers, Suntisuk said.
Shares of Asia Aviation were 0.4 percent higher at the
midday break, compared with a 0.4 percent decline in the
(Reporting by Manunphattr Dhanananphorn; Writing by Khettiya
Jittapong; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christopher Cushing)