THAI slashes Phuket flights

PHUKET: Thai Airways – whose website ironically announces “THAI’s Full Support On Tsunami Aftermath” – confirmed today that it is making drastic cuts to both domestic and international routes serving Phuket, with effect from February 1.

However, the airline’s District Sales Manager for Upper-Southern Thailand, Kalayapha Panich, told the Gazette today that although the carrier would suspend all international flights serving the island until March 26, passengers booked on those flights would be well taken care of.

“THAI flies only a few international routes to Phuket,” she said. “The two routes to Phuket from Australia will be adjusted so that they fly direct to Bangkok without stopping in Phuket,” she explained.

The cuts will include the daily Sydney-Melbourne-Phuket-Bangkok route and the Perth-Phuket-Bangkok route, which flies twice weekly on Fridays and Saturdays.

THAI’s daily Taipei-Hong Kong-Phuket-Bangkok route will also give Phuket a miss, becoming a direct non-stop service between Hong Kong and Bangkok, she added.

Japanese will now also find it impossible to get direct scheduled flights to Phuket on THAI, as the Osaka-Phuket-Bangkok and Tokyo-Phuket-Bangkok routes will also drop Phuket as a stopover.

In addition, the national carrier has chopped two daily early-morning domestic flights between Bangkok and Phuket, TG201 and TG211.

 Pattanapong Aikwanich, Chairman of the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), criticized the cancelations. “They should keep at least one flight on main routes such as those from Japan, which we fought for many years to get.

“THAI is the national airline, the one that everyone thinks of when they want to come to Thailand. The airline should consider this more carefully,” he said.

“I think it should only reduce the schedules, not cancel them. It may create a negative image or give the impression that there are some internal problems.”

He noted, however, that the cuts are supposed to be temporary. “I hope they will resume normal service after [March 26],” he said.

Phuket News

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