Airlines and Aviation
Five international airlines are launching new routes or increasing frequencies on existing routes between Thailand and China, India, the Maldives, Singapore, and Turkey. Could flights to the United States be on the radar screen?
Thai Airways International, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Thai AirAsia, and Jetstar Asia have already launched or will launch routes to new travel destinations this year.
The new flights will further strengthen Thailand's status as global aviation hub, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says. They will also give the country's travel industry – one of its most important sectors – an important shot in the arm.
Thai Airways International
Thai Airways International increased the number of flights linking Phuket International Airport with Beijing Capital Airport in China to four nonstop flights per week on 27 March 2017.
Located off the southern coast of the Thai mainland, Phuket is arguably Thailand’s premier beach resort.
The island is proving to be especially popular with Chinese travelers, and Phuket International Airport is the country’s third busiest airport after Bangkok’s two international airports:
- Suvarnabhumi International Airport handles mostly international routes, and
- Don Mueang International Airport is used mostly for domestic flights and by low-cost carriers.
Thai Airways also flies to the following Chinese travel destinations from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport: Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Kunming, Shanghai, and Xiamen.
Thai Airways also flies from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport to two other cities in Greater China: Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan.
Qatar Airways increased the number of flights linking Suvarnabhumi International Airport with its hub at Doha’s Hamad International Airport in Qatar, to five non-stop flights per day on 1 July 2017.
Hamad International Airport is the airline’s hub. From there, passengers can transfer to flights destined for Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.
Qatar Airways also links Phuket International Airport with its Doha hub twice daily. The airline launched flights linking Krabi International Airport with Doha last winter. The service operates four times a week.
Krabi is another popular resort island in Southern Thailand. It is not as popular or well-known as Phuket, but that – for many travelers – only adds to its charm.
Turkish Airlines launched flights linking Phuket International Airport with its hub at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on 17 July 2017. The flights will operate four times per week, increasing to seven flights per week in winter.
From Istanbul, the airlines offers connections to travel destinations in Africa, the Americas, and Europe.
Turkish Airlines also links Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport with its Istanbul hub twice daily. The route was launched in 1989.
Thai AirAsia launched flights linking Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport with Male International Airport in the Maldives on 11 August 2017. The flights operate daily using Airbus A320 aircraft.
The Maldives is a popular island resort located in the Indian Ocean off the coasts of India and Sri Lanka.
The low-cost airline will launch flights linking Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport with Jaipur and Tiruchirappalli, both in India, on 29 September 2017.
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan in Northern India. Tiruchirappalli is located in Tamil Nadu in central southeastern India.
Jetstar Asia will launch four weekly flights linking Hat Yai International Airport with Singapore’s Changi International Airport on 3 November 2017. It will operate 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft on the route.
Hat Yai is a located in Southern Thailand near the order with Malaysia. Hai Yat International Airport is the fifth busiest airport in Thailand.
On the Radar Screen
Looking to the future, will Thai Airways revive service to the United States? The airline used to link Bangkok with New York’s JKF International Airport and LAX in Los Angeles.
The flight made stops first in Osaka’s Kansai International Airport and then at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. The flights were discontinued in 2017 because they were not profitable.
Thai Airways will take delivery of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in 2017. If the airline does decide to resume flights to the US, San Francisco International Airport and/or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport would be likely gateways.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has also signed memoranda of understanding with Eva Air of Taiwan, Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines to jointly promote inbound travel from several important markets in vaporous parts of the world.