New flights to open up Indian market for Phuket

THAI operators are looking to tap soon-to-be-launched direct flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to Phuket, which has been less popular than Pattaya among the Indian market due to accessibility issues.

Thai Airways International (THAI), which flies to Bangkok twice daily from New Delhi and 13 times weekly from Mumbai, plans to convert two flights a week from each city to non-stop Phuket flights using its 300-seat Airbus A330s.

Pending approval from the relevant authorities, the flights are scheduled to take place from April to July, during the island’s low season. Return trips will be via Bangkok.

Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily, THAI’s area general manager for India, Korakot Chatasingha, said the idea was to promote new destinations in Thailand, which is receiving a growing number of Indian repeat visitors.

“Many Indian travellers have been reluctant to include Phuket as they have to fly from Bangkok. We want to develop Phuket for the summer season. If response is good, we might extend the flights until September and launch similar flights from other Indian airports next summer,” he added.

Bangkok-based DMC, Marvel Holidays director of marketing and sales, Ranajit Banerjee, expects to see a 20 per cent increase in business to Phuket from India, explaining that the higher end of the market was now “tired of Pattaya”. Last year, he had around 5,000 Indian clients going to Pattaya, but only 2,000 to Phuket.

Novotel Phuket Vintage Park director of sales and marketing, Sopa Sorn-In, said although rates in Phuket were higher than in Pattaya, it was still a “value-for-money destination”, especially during the low season when four-star hotels on the island could go for half of what their counterparts in India would charge.

She added: “Indian clients like to combine Pattaya with Bangkok as they like shopping. (With the new flights), they can choose to come to Phuket to relax and still go to Bangkok to shop.”

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