Emirates Flight EK378 landed at Phuket International Airport at 2:20pm. The flight originated from Dubai and landed in Bangkok at 11:25am before proceeding to Phuket.
The flight landed literally while Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was at the airport amid a media blitz to review the processing and screening procedures for allowing foreign tourists to enter the country via Phuket airport.
No official agencies yesterday recognised the flight landing, leaving the announcement to Emirates Airlines, which reported the flight landing through a Facebook post.
“Today we became the first international airline to touch down in Phuket since its re-opening for international travel,” Emirates Airlines declared.
“Our special flight to Phuket signals the re-start of tourism in the popular island destination since Thailand re-opened its borders for international travellers.
“EK376 was welcomed with a water cannon salute in the presence of a VIP delegation led by the Prime Minister of Thailand,” it added.
State news agency NNT and the Public Relations Department of Thailand (PRD) both reported the Emirates flight as the first scheduled service to land at Phuket International Airport since the COVID-19 lockdown began.
A Qatar Airways scheduled flight, Flight QR978 from Doha to Phuket, is to arrive tomorrow (Nov 4).
Both flights are to operate two times a week, reported NNT
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with Emirates and Qatar Airways, operates two international airlines arriving at Phuket International Airport to increase travel options for various groups of passengers, such as business travelers, long-term residents,” NNT noted in its brief report today.
The PRD identified both flights as “semi-commercial flights” and described the flights as the first allowed to arrive in Phuket carrying tourists entering the country on the Special Tourist Visa (STV).
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in discussions with additional airlines to launch semi-commercial flights to Phuket International Airport,” the PRD reported.
The Emirates Airlines office at Phuket airport has yet to answer calls from The Phuket News. A request for more information sent to the airline has yet to receive a response.
Phuket Airport General Manager Thanee Chuangchoo responded to a message sent by The Phuket News, but declined to comment as he was busy at the time.
However, an airline information staffer at Phuket International Airport, who asked not to be named, confirmed to The Phuket News, “There were no passengers on the plane.”
The staffer declined to provide any further information.
A staffer at the Qatar Airways office at Phuket airport also would only confirm the same information as released by the state news agencies, and declined to comment further.
The staffer declined to confirm how many if any passengers will be on board the Qatar Airways flight tomorrow.