Thai Airways International’s first flight from Beijing to Phuket was welcomed, Monday, by local tourism officials and the island’s deputy governor.
Phuket deputy governor, Theera Anantaseriwitthaya, greeted VIPs invited for the trip and 14 Chinese travel agents who were accompanied by the airline’s China regional director, Kittiphong Sarnsomboon.
The agents will be hosted for an educational trip this week, with visits to the island’s attractions and an opportunity to meet invited local hoteliers and travel suppliers.
The new route marks THAI’s first direct service from mainland China to Phuket, and its launch is being celebrated with a three-day fam trip to Phuket for Chinese travel agents and members of the media.
“This new THAI route is vital as Phuket becomes ever more popular with tourists and travellers from China who can now conveniently come here for weekends,” said Bangornrat Chinaprayoon, director of TAT’s Beijing office.
“Phuket is a high quality, must-see tropical destination and this new air access will allow tourists from our largest market to fly here directly with no hassles.”
The four weekly flights (TG 685) depart Beijing at 0555 on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The return flights depart Phuket at 2205 on the same days.
Advertised as the airline’s “Phuket Express”, the flight time is five hours and 35 minutes.
The online booking site Kayak.com quotes a roundtrip fare on the THAI service at USD902 (Kayak uses Expedia for this fare).
In comparison, China’s Hainan Airlines sells its best roundtrip fare at USD558, also nonstop Beijing-Phuket with a flight time of five hours and 45 minutes.
Online booking sites show the lowest fare Beijing to Phuket on China’s Shenzhen Airlines is pegged at USD269 and China Southern at USD278, but both involve a stop at the airlines’ home-base hubs.
THAI also participates in codeshare flights on the Beijing-Phuket with both Air China and Hainan Airlines. The codeshare flight with Hainan Airlines actually undercuts THAI’s best offer with a roundtrip fare of USD864 (roundtrip).