Vietnam’s beach destinations are coming into sharper focus for Bangkok Airways as it seeks to replicate its success in connecting the longhaul market with South-east Asia through its Bangkok, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai hubs.
The airline’s president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth said: “Bangkok Airways has done quite well in drawing Europeans to our destinations in South-east Asia. We are also looking forward to opening more routes to new, smaller beach destinations in the Indochina region.”
Coming up next on its network expansion plan is Vietnam’s Phu Quoc, where Puttipong sees the island’s visa-free entry for all nationalities and its novelty as “positive points” that can stimulate passenger demand for the Bangkok-Phu Quoc route.
Frequency for its Bangkok-Danang service, launched in May last year, has already been stepped up from four-times weekly to daily since February.
Beyond these two Vietnamese destinations, Bangkok Airways will expand its network to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi through codeshare partners in the near future.
Chiang Mai-Vientiane, Chiang Mai-Bagan and Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima services are expected to take off soon, pending government approval.
And despite Bangkok Airways’ recent interest in growing seat capacity from China, the airline chief believes that growing Chinese visitor numbers to Koh Samui – where it owns and operates the island’s airport – will not squeeze out the European market which has been a traditional stronghold for the destination.
“The European market will still be the strength of our Samui routes, with the number of passengers still growing every year.
“Even though we have started new routes to China market and started picking up some Chinese tourists, the selective destinations we fly to in China bring us higher-quality tourists who are different from the group-tour market,” said Puttipong, adding that these two core markets visit the island in different seasons and help support year-round passenger demand.
Meanwhile, the airline has announced intentions to build two new airports – one in Thailand, the other in Indochina – but declined to give further information at press time.
Will these be located in beach destinations? Stay tuned.