PHUKET: Low-cost carrier Thai AirAsia, an associate carrier of Malaysian low-fare airline AirAsia, yesterday launched a daily, direct flight service between Phuket and Singapore, offering promotional fares as low as 1,200 baht for advanced ticket purchases made over the Internet.
Flight FD 3028 departs Phuket at 9:30 am and arrives in Singapore at 12:10 pm local time. The return leg, Flight FD 3029, departs Singapore at 12:45 pm and reaches Phuket at 1:20 pm.
Thai AirAsia CEO Tossapon Bijleveld announced the new service at a press conference at the Novotel Coralia Phuket.
He said the daily service was launched in response to increased customer demand, as the former twice-weekly flights were booked to almost 80% capacity.
K. Tossapon said the airline has also added an extra flight from Bangkok to Singapore, bringing the number of direct daily flights between the two capitals to three.
Currently, the Bangkok-Singapore route is operating at 40%-50% capacity, but K. Tossapon expects the new service and related promotions to increase the figure to 70%-80% within three weeks.
About 110,000 Singaporeans flew on AirAsia flights from February 16 to November 3, he said, adding that he expects bookings to increase by as much as 30% as a result of the expanded Phuket-Singapore service, which will increase AirAsia’s daily capacity between Thailand and Singapore to 4,144 seats.
Tickets for the flights range in cost from 1,200 to 3,500 baht, depending on the how far in advance tickets are bought.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Region 4 Director Suwalai Pinpradab said that with the new service, the total number of incoming flights to Phuket between November and March will increase 26% compared with the same period last high season.
“Last year only 40,000 Singaporeans came to Phuket. However, the availability of low-cost flights, coupled with TAT promotions, could turn Phuket into a popular weekend shopping destination for Singaporeans and Malaysians,” she said.
TAT will continue to market Phuket as a shopping, food, spa and health tourism destination, she said, adding that the agency plans to attract more women and well-heeled visitors from Indonesia.
K. Suwalai said that the overall number of tourists visiting Phuket, both foreign and domestic, was about 2 million people during the first half of 2004 – an increase of about 15% compared with the same period last year. She expects about 500,000 more arrivals by year end, with Germany, Taiwan and the UK expected to be the three top sources of foreign tourists, respectively.
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