The COVID-19 pandemic had seen all scheduled flights between the two destinations cancelled indefinitely but yesterday saw flight FY3600 from Penang arrive in Phuket at 2:20pm with a total of 134 passengers on board the newly renovated Boeing 737-800.
Firefly Airlines, a subsidiary of Malaysia Aviation Group, confirmed the new schedule will see four flights between the two destinations every week. It marks the airline’s second international destination after the Seletar-Singapore route was laucned in June.
“The global travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic saw many flight routes cancelled, particularly across the Asean region,” commented Firefly Airlines CEO Philip See after the launch of yesterday’s flight.
“Now restrictions have eased customers are excited and looking forward to travelling again. The launch of our new Boeing 737-800 earlier this year will help drive traffic and bring more passengers to connected destinations between cities and popular tourist destinations such as Phuket,” he added.
Flights have been purposefully planned to arrive in Phuket in the early afternoon to enable passengers sufficient time to clear the airport, check in at their accommodation venue and start enjoying the wonders the island has to offer such as fine food and beverages, world-class beaches, markets and street entertainment, Mr See added. Likewise, passengers travelling to Penang will enjoy exploring the beautiful colonial architecture and history, idyllic beaches and some of the best street food in the world.
Nongyao Jirandon, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in Kuala Lumpur said, “It’s great to see Malaysian travelers from Penang considering Thailand as a desirable destination and equally great that they can now travel to the island with Firefly. Penang and Phuket are similar in history and culture so Malaysian tourists will feel at home while in Phuket. At the same time, one can enjoy Phuket’s signature southern cuisine and beautiful beaches. This year, Phuket attracted 890,000 tourists from around the world. Thailand also welcomed more than 560,000 Malaysians from January to August as well,” Ms Nongyao added.
Nantasiri Ronnasiri, Director of TAT’s Phuket office said, “Phuket has so much to offer tourists such as amazingly beautiful beaches and delicious local cuisine, from Michelin-starred restaurants to street food. There are also many high quality standard hotels and resorts that welcome Malaysian tourists in a safe and hygienic environment.”
Ooi Chok Yan, Executive Chairman of Penang Global Tourism, said, “We are committed to increasing the number of tourists to Penang and the relaunch of Firefly flights to regional destinations only helps with this objective.
“Penang is much more than a secluded beach getaway,” added Mr Ooi. “It is dubbed the Pearl of the Orient and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage City. With its quaint old buildings it has much charm with history, art and culture coexisting with modern developments including Penang Hill, which has recently been recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.”
Firefly also operates routes from Penang to Langkawi, Johor Bahru, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. Customers flying in the Boeing 737-800 can choose value packages that offer flexibility with flight changes, reward points earned, 20kg of checked baggage allowance with hot meals served on board and priority with bags, boarding, check-in and seat selection.