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Koh Samui welcomes inaugural flight from Chengdu, China

Photo via Samui Airport

On Sunday, Koh Samui Airport in Surat Thani province, southern Thailand, welcomed a flight from Chengdu in China for the first time in over three years.

Chengdu Airlines flight EU2807 landed in Koh Samui at 5.40pm with 130 Chinese tourists on board.

Samui Airport held a special welcome ceremony for the inaugural flight by using fire engines to spray water over the plane in an arch shape as it taxied down the runway, which is permitted according to international standards.

All the tourists were bestowed with a garland and other souvenirs by the officials attending the event, including the Deputy Governor of Surat Thani province Nantawat Charoenwan, Senior Deputy District Chief of Koh Samui Suthipong Thongruang, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Koh Samui Office Kanokkittika Kritwuttihorn, President of the Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association Ratchaporn Poolsawat and Director of Samui Airport Nutchayathorn Natsudanitwipha.

Sunday was the first time Samui Airport welcomed a Chengdu Airlines flight since the airline suspended the service on February 4, 2020 – more than three years ago – due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An Airbus A319 will service the direct Chengu – Koh Samui route once per week on a Sunday, with a capacity of 140 passengers.

Chengdu Airlines plans to increase the frequency of the route to three times per week in May 2023 if demand is high.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic, 308,303 Chinese tourists visited Koh Samui generating 14 billion baht for the island’s economy, according to DailyNews. So the return of Chinese tourists to Samui is expected to boost the island’s damaged economy significantly.

Since China opened up its borders in January, airlines are continually scrambling for slots to accommodate new or resumed routes to various Chinese locations.

Thailand’s flag carrier Thai Airways recently expanded into five Chinese cities, flying from Bangkok to Kunming, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Beijing.

Five airlines launched direct flights connecting Phuket to Shanghai, Nanjing, and Chengdu recently including Spring Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines.

Hainan Airlines recently resumed services between Bangkok and Hainin, “The Hawaii of China.”

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) authorised 970 flights from China to land in the kingdom this month alone, according to CAAT president Suttipong Kongpool.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.