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Nok Air, One-Two-Go to launch Phuket-Haad Yai flights

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PHUKET: After almost two years with no flights connecting Southern Thailand’s two busiest airports, lost-cost carriers Nok Air and One-Two-Go will launch regular services between Phuket International Airport and Haad Yai International Airport.

From May 15, Nok Air flights using 150-seat Boeing 737-400s will depart Phuket daily at 2:05 pm and reach Haad Yai at 2:45 pm. The return leg will depart Haad Yai at 3:15 pm, landing in Phuket at 3:55 pm.

Average economy class ticket prices will be about 1,500 baht one-way, including all taxes and fees.

Sehapan Chumsai, Nok Air’s Executive Vice-President for Marketing, told the Gazette that demand for flights is from businessmen unwilling to make the seven-hour drive from Phuket to Haad Yai. The journey takes about nine hours by VIP coach

“We think there is sufficient demand and we see this route as a good opportunity to help travelers between the two cities save time,” he said.

Although the flight schedules announced will remain effective only until October 27, just days before the traditional start of the tourism high season in Phuket, K. Sahaphan is confident that the route will be a long-term success.

“Whenever Nok Air launches a new route we try to be patient and develop that route as best as possible. If passenger demand increases, we can add more flights. We are confident that this will be a popular service that will grow over time,” he said.

K. Sahapan said he expects the bulk of passengers using the new service to be people on business or visiting relatives. About 35% are expected to book their flights online, with another 35% booking though the Nok Air Call Center. The remainder will buy their tickets at the airport (25%) or through agents (5%),” he said.

One-Two-Go Airlines will launch the first flight of its Wednesday-Friday-Sunday flight schedule on May 13. At 1,500 baht all inclusive, the 30-minute flights will leave Phuket at 11:30 am, with the return leg leaving Haad Yai at 12:30 pm.

One-Two-Go Executive Director for Commercial Affairs Manassanant Tantiprachai said One-Two-Go expects strong demand from Malaysian tourists flying to Haad Yai who want to continue to Phuket. “This was a popular route for many years when it was run by THAI [Thai Airways International],” said K. Manassanant.

“Our strengths lie in our aircraft, a 172-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-82, plus the fact that we have have free snacks and beverages on all flights. We also have a higher maximum luggage weight than Nok Air and we allow passengers to change flight dates with no charge.

“We expect Malaysian tourists and Thais to make up the bulk or our passengers,” she said. “Most of these, about 50% or 60%, are expected to buy tickets through agents. The remainder will book through the call center or by Internet.”

The last airline to fly the Phuket-Haad Yai route was Phuket’s namesake carrier Phuket Air, which used an aging 60-seat Japanese NAMC YS-11 turboprop to serve the route. The service was suspended after a bomb exploded in the departure lounge of Haad Yai Airport on April 3, 2005, killing one person. The service was scrapped six months later.

Other carriers that have abandoned the route include the now-defunct Air Andaman, Bangkok Airways and THAI Airways, which had daily flights on large aircraft in the 1980s and 1990s, some with stopovers in Trang.

 

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