Airlines gear up for Phuket flights
Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) will start direct flights from five European cities to Phuket next month in line with plans to reopen the island for tourists.
The airline announced via its Facebook page that it will reintroduce direct flights from Zurich, Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and London to Phuket from July 2.
The timing was in sync with the government's confirmation on Friday that Phuket Airport will resume international tourist flights on July 1 for tourists willing not to leave the island for 14 days after arrival.
THAI will also reportedly begin flights from Hong Kong to Phuket again on July 2.
Qatar Airways has announced four weekly flights from Doha to Phuket from July 1.
The Gulf state airline currently operates 12 flights a week between the Qatari and Thai capitals.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said, "With the resumption of flights to Phuket, Qatar Airways marks a significant milestone in the recovery of international tourism.
"We look forward to working with our partners in Thailand to support the recovery of their tourism sector," he added.
Launched in 2010, Phuket became Qatar Airways' 93rd destination at the time. Flight QR 840 from Doha, which will run on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, arrives in Phuket at 1.30pm. The return QR 841 flight departs Phuket at 5.30am on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (all times are local).
Another big-player gulf carrier, Emirates, also announced it will resume four weekly services to the resort island. It is unclear how many are likely to visit or what airlines' bookings are like.
Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post is reporting that direct flights between Hong Kong and Phuket will return to departures boards from July 2nd as the industry prepares to put Phuket back on the map next month.
However, travel industry insiders told that quarantine concessions may be expected before Beijing allows the resumption of a full schedule.
"It is feasible if there is a quarantine-free arrangement between the two governments, similar to the air bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong," said Tommy Tam Kwong-shun, chairman of the Society of IATA Passenger Agents, a coalition of the largest travel agents in Hong Kong.