Austrian Airlines plans Phuket flights

PHUKET: Starting November 4, Austrian Airlines will operate non-stop direct flights between Phuket and Vienna.

Austrian Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer, Dr Josef E Burger, told the Gazette that the airline is expecting to carry at least 14,000 passengers a year on the route, generating revenue of as much as 500 million baht a year.

From November to December 10 the flights will be weekly, arriving in Phuket on Friday and departing Saturday. From December 12 to March 10 there will be twice-weekly flights, departing on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

The airline will use Boeing 767-300ER aircraft that are capable of carrying 239 passengers; 36 in business class and 203 in economy. Flying time will be 12 hours.

A return ticket in economy class will be priced at 39,500 baht. Business class is priced at 93,000 baht. An introductory special offer package includes three nights’ accommodation in Vienna and a sightseeing train trip.

Dr Burger said, “We consider Phuket to be a destination with potential growth but most importantly, at a time when other airlines are shying away, we want to pursue a strategy that helps the tourist industry in Phuket.”

He explained that he expected 95% of the service’s passengers to be European, mostly from East and Central Europe, though the company will advertise its service in other parts of the continent.

Vice-Governor Winai Buapradit commented, “We’ll be ready for tourists when the airlines operate regular services again. We have many packages on offer and the [tsunami] alarm system will be completed at the end of October.

“If we’ve done our job well here, I believe that people will come and Phuket will recover.”

The Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Region 4, Suwalai Pinpradab said, “Dr Burger visited us on January 3 and told us that friends who stick together in difficult times are real friends.

“We realize the importance of airlines; the main reason for the declining number of tourists is because many carriers have stopped flying here. In the past we had about 200 flights per week but now we have only 66,” she said.

“This is good news and we will help ensure that Phuket can welcome tourists in safety.”

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