New flights for Phuket

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: Opodo Travel News announced yesterday that Air Berlin will add an extra weekly flight into Phuket toward the end of this year. A new Airbus A330-200 aircraft will be stationed at Berlin-Tegel airport to fly the sector.

The airline currently has a flight leaving Berlin every Monday afternoon, arriving into Phuket Tuesday mornings.

Joachim Hunold, Air Berlin’s chief executive officer, says the additional long-haul service to Phuket “reflects [our] desire to make the most of this market opportunity and will strengthen the airline’s position in Berlin for years to come.”

And the Bangkok Post reports that Mohan Air has organised new charter flights between Teheran and Phuket for Iran’s New Year festival in March, with three flights carrying 1,300 visitors to the resort island as Phuket’s high season wanes into low.

The airline is also said to be planning more direct flights to Phuket “later”, while Iran is scheduling an increase in the number of its weekly flights to Bangkok to three from the current two.

Phuket won’t see Travel Mart

TTR Weekly
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT’s) contingency plan for Thailand Travel Mart, if the red-shirt protests in Bangkok were not to cease, now calls for postponement rather than a change of venue.

When asked what they would do if the red-shirt protests continue well into May and travel advisories continue to curtail travel to Thailand, TAT officials now say they would not consider switching the event to Phuket.

The event is scheduled for 2-4 June at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi, just 30 km north of Bangkok.

The latest report indicates a 12% decline in seller participation this year.

Phuket airport lonely

TTR  Weekly
Phuket and Chiang Mai airports have both reported declines in traffic during April, blamed mainly on the red shirt protests and a subsequent increase in travel advisories.

Phuket Airport Manager Prathuang Sornkhom reported a strong early to mid-April pattern in airport traffic, but by the end of the month the destination was feeling the impact of negative travel advisories.

“Traffic over the next few months will not be so good. Chinese carriers have already suspended their operations to Phuket due to the travel advisories,” he said.

However, some Chinese charters continued to operate to Samui last week, skipping Bangkok and Pattaya, which apparently contradicted reports of a total ban on travel from China.

Thai tourism to rebound

Bangkok Post
Tourism operators expect an influx of foreign visitors into Thailand in the second half of the year as political protests end while the world economy rebounds.

A-One Hotel is among 90 Thai operators who have joined the Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai this week. They say no customers have asked about the political situation in Thailand.

Meanwhile, Chumpol Silpa-archa, Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister, says the ministry is maintaining its target of 15.5 million foreign visitors this year.

The government has extended measures to help the industry until March 2011, including the exemption of visa fees, an offer of insurance and 1.6 billion baht in stimulus funds.

Yellow shirts angry at PM

New Straits Times
Thailand’s pro-establishment “Yellow Shirts” yesterday called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to stand down, criticising his reconciliation roadmap which envisages fresh elections in November.

The Yellows, who had previously backed Abhisit’s embattled administration, accused the premier of bowing to the demands of the rival Red Shirts who have mounted weeks of crippling street protests to push for snap polls.

They also accused Abhisit of conducting secret negotiations with representatives of the Reds’ hero – fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

“We demand that the prime minister reconsider and cancel the election date, and for the prime minister to step down and make way for another person,” said Yellow spokesman Suriyasai Katasila.

Big on Coal

Thailand’s biggest coal producer, Banpu Pcl, has bought a 14.9 percent stake in Australia’s Centennial Coal Ltd, gaining exposure to mines in the world’s biggest exporter of the fuel.

The investment makes Banpu the biggest shareholder in a producer with 10 mines in Australia and power station customers in Japan and Europe.

Banpu is seeking to acquire coal mines in Australia and South Africa to increase coal reserves, which totaled 606 million tons at Dec. 31, 2009.

It plans to spend $466 million in the next six years to expand its mines in Indonesia and China, and to build a power plant in Laos.

Central Bank Bullish

Bangkok Post
The Thai economy is recovering on the back of an expansion in the export sector and improvement in investment, consumption and employment, Tarisa Wattanagase, Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BoT), said yesterday at the “10th Money Expo” in Bangkok.

The event, with over 200 financial institutions taking part, will continue until Sunday.
Mrs Tarisa said the country’s economic foundations are still strong, even with the negative impact of political uncertainty.

She also believed the ongoing financial crisis in Greece would have a minimal impact on the Thai economy.

The BoT governor hoped the Money Expo, which attracted 130 billion baht’s worth of transactions last year, would help boost the economy.

— Gazette Editors

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