Air Andaman to launch Phuket-Singapore route

PHUKET: Air Andaman will begin a regular service between Bangkok and Singapore from May 13, stopping at Phuket on the way. Public Relations Manager Am-nad Thienhiranchaikul told the Gazette that the airline is awaiting delivery of two new Fokker-100 jet airplanes to fly the new route. With capacity for 108 passengers, the new planes will replace the smaller F-50 turboprop aircraft formerly used by the carrier. K. Am-nad said the fares, yet to be announced, will be “competitive”. The service is scheduled to fly every Tuesday, Thurday, Friday and Sunday. The company has also applied for permits to fly from Phuket to Vietnam via U-Tapao airbase, near Pattaya. In addition, the feasibility of a direct service to the Andaman Islands from Phuket, a dream of airline founder Atichart Athakravisunthorn, is being studied. Rival carrier PB Air recently announced plans to provide a twice-weekly service to Port Blair in the Andamans from Bangkok, starting in December. Air Andaman Sales Director Apirat Purithawornston said the company is also planning services to other regional destinations, including Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) in India and Shenzhen in southern China. Air Andaman’s new management team is changing the airline’s focus away from the domestic market to the regional one. Bucking the low-cost, no-frills trend, Air Andaman will offer free-flowing Champagne on all regional flights as part of its “Chaba” in-flight service. In a recent press statement, Air Andaman President Dean Mills said, “Air Andaman has successfully restructured [its] shareholdings and debts, and has emerged with what we believe is a very sound and promising business plan. “We have decided to exit the domestic market due to very high competition and falling yields. From now on, we will concentrate on regional flights.” Mills added that while the company will be a regional carrier, some domestic routes may still be part of the network. Services from Bangkok to Surat Thani and Haad Yai were among the routes being considered, he said. Plans are also being drawn up to offer long-haul flights from Bangkok to destinations in Europe, although no details are available yet. The company is awaiting delivery of a Boeing 737-400 for longer routes.

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