Qatar adding fourth flight

Qatar Airways is moving to raise its profile in Thailand with the launch of a fourth Bangkok-Doha daily flight and the establishment of its own lounge at Suvarnabhumi airport in the future.

Beyond that, the carrier will ramp up more frequencies through the Thai capital whenever demand warrants and aircraft capacity is available, according to Joegendra Rajadurai, the airline's manager for Thailand and Myanmar.

Qatar Airways is one of several cash-rich Middle Eastern carriers aggressively expanding their presence in Thailand to cash in on the fast-growing traffic between Bangkok and their home hubs.

The fourth daily flight boosts Qatar's frequency between the two cities to 28 a week, marking a significant rise in capacity on one of the busiest routes from the Doha hub.

Qatar, one of the world's fastest-growing airlines, will continue to deploy Boeing 777s, the long-haul wide-body jets that already serve the sector, on the fourth daily flight, Mr Rajadurai said.

The airline uses two variants of the B777 on the route, one configured with 335 seats and the other with 380.

Mr Rajadurai said Qatar Airways has witnessed surging passenger traffic to and from Bangkok, particularly those coming for medical tourism in Thailand and those travelling from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas for leisure.

He noted the growing number of Thais taking advantage of Qatar's expanding coverage of eastern Europe. Cities like Warsaw and Budapest are fast becoming popular as holiday destinations.

Qatar Airways is also keen to increase daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Phuket once capacity restrictions at Phuket airport, now heavily congested, are eased.

Lack of space at Suvarnabhumi has prevented Qatar from setting up its own lounge for premium passengers _ a key element in the airline's five-star service offering.

Qatar has been making use of Thai Airways International's lounge for premium passengers.

With the fourth daily Bangkok-Doha flight, Qatar Airways will be second to rival Emirates in terms of frequencies and capacity between Thailand and the Middle East.

Emirates is strengthening its dominance of the Middle East-Thailand sector with the launch of its fifth daily non-stop flight between Bangkok and Dubai, starting on March 31.

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Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business