PHUKET: Thailand’s national airline, THAI, is slashing the price of flights between Phuket and Bangkok by nearly 1,000 baht for two months from November 1.
The special fare of 1,700 baht one-way will be available for passengers who book “e-tickets” over the Internet and fly between November 1 and December 31. The full one-way fare is 2,625 baht.
In a promotion called “Smile with THAI Sabai with E-ticket”, the airline is also offering “special” fares on other routes, such as Bangkok-Chiang Mai (1,500 baht), Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani (1,200 baht) and Bangkok-Krabi (1,900 baht).
From November 1, THAI will also operate a ticketless system for all domestic flights.
THAI’s introduction of ticketless flights coincides with an announcement by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that airlines around the world will be looking to replace printed tickets with electronic ones by 2007.
Travel agents are divided over how e-ticketing will affect their businesses. Phongsri Lamontri is Senior Ticketing Manager of Pacific Leisure, which has an office in Phuket, and which derives most of its revenue from the sale of air tickets. She warned, “It will definitely affect travel agents in the future if customers don’t book through us. We can’t compete against e-tickets if THAI offers them at a lower price.”
However, she added, credit cards, which are necessary for internet bookings, are still a relatively new phenomenon in Thailand; many don’t yet have them, and many airlines still rely on tickets booked through travel agents, rather than on-line.
Chusak Wongwai, Operations Manager of Phuket-based tour company Asian Trails, which handles both inbound and outbound travel, told the Gazette that e-ticketing could encourage more tourists to come to Phuket, and this would be good news for travel agents.
But many customers still prefer to book through travel agents, he said, because tickets booked on-line cannot be refunded, and customers cannot make changes after booking.
In addition, tourists used travel agents because they offered more than just flight bookings, but also services such as booking tours and hotel reservations.
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