Governor Narong was among the official welcoming party ready to receive the arrival of just 16 passengers, 13 foreigners and three Thais, on Flight TG912 from Frankfurt. The plane initially landed in Bangkok with 130 tourists on board, before continuing to Phuket.
Governor Narong explained that the Frankfurt flight stemmed from talks between Phuket tourism industry representatives with Thai Airways International in Bangkok in December to urge THAI Airways International to arrange direct international passenger flights to Phuket and for its dometic carrier subsidiary THAI Smile to reduce airfares to Phuket to help boost the number of domestic tourists visiting the island.
“Today, we have received a great response from Thai Airways… It is a good vision to revive the economy of Phuket, and the economy of the country. It is also an opportunity for the recovery of Thai Airways operations… It is a collaboration of all sectors that will drive the economy back to be bright and sustainable,” he said.
Jesada Chandrema, THAI International Airway’s Acting Vice-President for Sales, and also part of the welcoming committee yesterday, noted that it had been a full year since THAI international flights had operated out of Phuket International Airport.
“The last Thai Airways flight after the COVID-19 situation [the lockdown in Thailand] began was on March 29 last year, with flight TG926 from Phuket to Frankfurt. Then flights ceased to operate. Until today, it has been a period of one year and four days,” he said.
Mr Jesada noted that before the pandemic THAI Airways usually operated three flights a week between Frankfurt and Phuket.
“THAI Airways will be able to return to normal flights. We expect to start more flights from high season Q4 after the market starts to improve, and more people are vaccinated… it is expected that people will start to return to Phuket as they did before,” he added.
The next flight from Frankfurt will be on May 7, said Wit Kitchathorn, a top executive with THAI Airways International, also present yesterday.
“All passengers today still have to be quarantined as required by the Ministry of Public Health. A seven-day quarantine for those vaccinated, and 10 days for those not vaccinated,” he said.
Mr Wit also assured that all necessary precautions were being taken by the airline to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“All flights are thoroughly sanitised, as we want to ensure that traveling with Thai Airways is as safe and secure as it was in the past,” he said.