THAI launches Sydney-Phuket service

PHUKET TOWN: Thai Airways International (THAI) will launch thrice-weekly direct flights to Phuket from Sydney via Melbourne on October 27, it was announced yesterday. Viset Sontichai, Upper-Southern Thailand District Sales Manager for THAI, told a press conference that the service, TG-980, will use Boeing 737or 747 aircraft, and will land in Phuket on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays at 5:55 am. Return flights will not be direct, but will be routed via Bangkok, but the announcement will still come as good news to many in the tourism industry who feel that the lack of direct flights to Phuket from abroad, on top of Sars, was a major contributor to this year’s dismal low-season tourist arrivals. Phuket Tourist Association [PTA] President Pattanapong Aikwanich pointed out that in 2002, the year of the Bali bombing, only 96,343 Australians visited Phuket. “Some Australian tourists went to beach resorts in other countries, such as Vietnam. But those places still lack Phuket’s name recognition and infrastructure. For this reason, Bali remains our greatest competitor for Australian tourists,” said K. Pattanapong. “With the introduction of direct flights, Phuket is sure to do better in the low season,” he added.

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