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Phuket’s neighbor Krabi needs more flights: tourism chief



Phuket’s neighbor Krabi needs more flights: tourism chief | Thaiger

PHUKET: The Chairman of the Krabi Tourism Association, Ittirit Kinglake, recently told the TTR Weekly that Krabi needs more airlines to support the hotel industry, a situation similar to that facing Phuket during the early months of this year.

Room capacity in Krabi is running ahead of airline seat supply, and there are not enough flights to Krabi for tourists during the high season, he said.

Currently, almost 20% of Krabi’s inbound flights are connecting direct through Singapore or Kuala Lumpur as the flights from Bangkok are often full.

Thai Air and Thai AirAsia both have three daily flights from Bangkok, but these are not sufficient to fill hotel rooms.

Mr Ittiirt pointed out that with 18,000 rooms in Krabi in the three-to five-star category and only about 1,600 airline seats a day coming into Krabi, more flights need to be added.

This year, four European charter companies will fly direct to Krabi: Thomas Cook, Nov Air, TUI Fly and FinnAir.

With the upgrading of the new terminal to be used exclusively for international arrivals, capacity at Krabi Airport will increase by about 60%.

While better use of Krabi Airport could boost arrivals, some of the blame for the oversupply of hotel rooms also lies with the hotel industry itself, as is also the case in Phuket.

Thousands of hotel rooms were added in Krabi by groups with little or no hotel experience and without any economic justification.

As with any economic cycle, the overbuilding during years of prosperity or overblown enthusiasm will take some time to adjust to a more realistic balance. A combination of slowing down on room additions and increased flights to provide more demand for the rooms would be the best route to increase occupancies.

In the meantime, tourists are enjoying a wide selection of hotels, all cutting their prices to gain market share.

Meanwhile, Phuket International Airport is operating close to capacity with about 100 flights a day arriving on the resort island, with several airlines having recently launched new services to Phuket.

— Gus Reynolds


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