THAI adamant on axing Aussie flights

PHUKET: Despite an appeal from Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura, Thai Airways International (THAI) says it will stick to its decision to suspend direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Phuket, effective February 1.

Kalayapha Panich, the airline’s Phuket-based District Sales Manager for Upper-Southern Thailand, said that the direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Phuket will be rerouted to Bangkok.

She added, “The main reason for this rerouting is that there are more passengers who want to fly direct to Bangkok [from Sydney and Melbourne]. In effect, the regular flight – TG 980, every Monday, Thursday and Sunday – is the same, except that it lands in Bangkok, not Phuket.

“If demand increases, maybe we can reinstate the direct flights to Phuket.”

Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, Assistant Director of TAT’s local office, told the Gazette that Gov Udomsak discussed the axing of the direct service with the TAT, the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) and THAI management, and asked the airline to keep the direct flights going.

“We don’t want to see THAI stop the direct flights,” K. Siripakorn added. “When our national airline stops flying straight here, people may lose confidence in Phuket. Luckily, other airlines still fly here direct.”

The TAT is planning a road show in Australia and Japan next month, he added. “The Governors of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, representatives of the Andaman provinces’ Provincial Administration Organizations (OrBorJor) and the TAT Region 4 Office will be in Australia February 11 and 12 to thank the people there who still visit the Andaman coastal provinces.

“Asian tourists still come to Thailand, but some of them have changed their destinations from Phuket to Bangkok or Koh Samui,” K. Siripakorn said.

Panu Maswongsa, Vice-President of the PTA, told the Gazette that he believed THAI would have more passengers if the airline had better marketing and management.

“Jet Line Asia, Tiger Air and Silk Air still fly direct to Phuket [from abroad], which suggests there is passenger demand. We must help our province by contacting the airlines that still have direct flights to Phuket and co-operating with them.”

With THAI having also slashed its service between Phuket and the capital, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to book seats to fly to the island from Bangkok.

Meanwhile, THAI’s budget subsidiary Nok Air has announced that on February 1 it will launch a service between Bangkok and Trang, with one flight a day.

Nok Air already serves Chiang Mai, Haad Yai, Phuket, Udon Thani, and Nakhon Sri Thammarat.

Phuket News
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