THAI plans direct flights to Riyadh

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (fourth right) and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai (sixth left) join an ardah sword dance while touring the cultural heritage town of Diriyah during their one-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan 25, 2022. (Government House photo)

Thai Airways International (THAI) is reportedly planning to launch direct flights between Bangkok and Riyadh in May.

Nond Kalinta, the airline's chief commercial officer, said THAI has filed a plan for the flights to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

He said the company is evaluating potential inbound passenger and cargo traffic to determine the frequency of the flights.

The move follows the signing of the bilateral agreement to fully restore diplomatic ties between Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is also preparing to launch tourism marketing campaigns to attract Saudi tourists.

In 2017, Thailand reportedly welcomed 33,517 Saudi nationals but the number dropped to 28,334 in 2018. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and last year, the number reportedly dropped to 4,125 and 467, respectively.

TAT governor Yutthasak Supasorn said the agency plans to coordinate with three major airlines in the Middle East -- Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airlines and Etihad Airways -- in tourism marketing campaigns focusing on the Middle East.

He said Saudia Airlines and THAI, already planning to operate flights between the two countries, are two potential partners.

According to Xinhua News Agency, Saudia will launch 10 new destinations to its travel network this year: Bangkok, Beijing, Barcelona, Malaga, Marrakech, Moscow, Seoul, Entebbe, Amsterdam and Chicago.

According to the Saudia website, the airline will have direct flights to Bangkok beginning on May 22.

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