Tourism authority seeks deals with 11 airlines
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Tourism authority seeks deals with 11 airlines

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is seeking partnerships with at least 11 international airlines in an effort to bolster rising and mature markets in the second half this year.

With the long-haul market projected to generate at least 770 billion baht this year from 10.8 million foreign arrivals, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said the agency plans to reinforce potential markets by using airlines in those regions that operate flights to Thailand.

He said the agency's marketing in the second half of the year would focus on two potential groups: rising and mature markets.

Among the long-haul markets, the six rising markets that posted a significant increase in the first five months of 2024 were: Poland (65.2%), Italy (48%), Saudi Arabia (27.6%), Denmark (26%), Canada (23%) and Kazakhstan (17.6%).

The five mature markets that recorded gains during the same period that need to be maintained comprise: France (38.7%), Germany (32%), the UK (22.6%), Russia (14.8%) and the US (14.3%).

As of May 29, the summer flight slots for most markets already exceeded pre-pandemic capacity, led by the Middle East with a recovery rate of 141%, followed by Europe (103%) and Africa (81.3%).

Mr Siripakorn said better cooperation with airlines was needed as many countries still struggle with insufficient seat capacity and high airfares.

The agency plans to talk with airlines, encouraging them to combine airline seats with holiday packages or offer special prices for long-stay travellers aligning with Thailand's recent visa policy allowing longer stays of up to 60 days for citizens of 93 countries.

He said two airlines, one of which is Air Canada, agreed to launch long-stay airfares to entice tourists to spend longer in Thailand, as the airline plans to start direct flights between Vancouver and Bangkok from October 2024.

For the European winter, several carriers confirmed new direct flights to Thailand. Iberojet, a Spanish-Portuguese charter airline, is operating seven charter flights a week between Madrid and Bangkok. Condor, a German leisure airline, is flying four times weekly between Frankfurt-Bangkok as well as Frankfurt-Phuket.

British Airways plans to commence three direct flights per week from London Gatwick to Bangkok starting from October, while Finnair is flying direct from Helsinki to Bangkok and Phuket from November. Finnair plans to operate 19-20 flights per week combined on these two routes.

In Kazakhstan, SCAT Airlines commenced services from Almaty to Surat Thani on May 30. Thai Airways plans to relaunch Bangkok-Milan and Bangkok-Oslo services on July 1.

Mr Siripakorn said Thai AirAsia X, a long-haul low-cost carrier, expects to offer flights to four cities in Europe during its winter season this year.

"Such negotiations with airlines were not possible the past few years when the aviation sector had very limited seats, forcing all carriers to sell expensive tickets," he said.

"However, with more aircraft deliveries globally, airlines are now looking for opportunities to expand their networks, which means it is the right time to partner with Thailand, which still has strong tourism demand."

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