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Phuket targets Saudi budget travellers, as Air China resumes direct flights

Phuket targets Saudi budget travellers, as Air China resumes direct flights

PHUKET: The Phuket Tourism Association has held talks with low-cost Saudi airline Flynas in an effort to encourage more direct flights to the island, as China’s national carrier officially returned to Phuket this week.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 2 February 2023, 04:43PM

A delegation from the Phuket Tourist Association led by President Thanet Tantipiriyakit met with Flynas executives on Jan 25 at the airline’s headquarters in Saudi Arabia to deliver a presentation as to why Phuket is an ideal destination for the airline to schedule flights to directly.

Mr Thanet met with Dr Anurag Kumar Jain, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer of Flynas and Fahad Adbulmohsen Al Mulhem, Vice President of KSA Sales.

The Phuket Tourist Association was also represented by Kan Ekkavanich, Secretary General of the Association; Vice Presidents Nantida Atiset, Panachakorn Jaiyen, Woraporn Woratat and Napitra Jira Yous who were joined by Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization (PPAO) executive Kraiwut Koomban.

Mr Kan and Ms Nuntida outlined the potential of Phuket as a destination market for Flynas, highlighting how the island is now almost fully rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic and on track to attract its target number of global tourists this year.

They also highlighted how popular a destination Phuket has been with Saudi nationals and other visitors from the Middle Eastern region since restrictions were relaxed and regular scheduled flights resumed from the region last year.

The initial response from the Flynas team was positive, Mr Kan said, with the airline looking to acquire further aircraft and possibly commence direct flights in the middle of this year, which would coincide with the summer holiday period in their homeland, a time when many travel overseas.

Flynas was formerly known as Nas Air and is Saudi Arabia’s first budget airline, headquartered in Riyadh.

Meanwhile, Air China resumed direct flights to Phuket this week, ending an almost three-year absence due to travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s subsequent ban on international travel.

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China Airline’s flight CA821 from Beijing landed at Phuket International Airport at 5pm on Monday (Jan 30). It was not officially confirmed how many passengers were aboard.

The flight between the Chinese capital and Phuket will now operate three times a week, with a 90-minute layover in Phuket each time before returning.

The resumption of Air China flights is seen as a welcome boost for the tourism industry in Phuket which was so ravaged by COVID. Along with China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, Air China makes up what is referred to as China’s “Big Three” major airlines.

China Eastern Airlines also resumed direct flight service from Nanjing Lukou International Airport to Phuket this week as flight MU2813 touched down around 5pm yesterday with 141 passengers onboard.

The arrivals were welcomed by Phuket International Airport Administrative Officer Chotiphat Detalay and ground staff at Gate 15 of the International Passenger Terminal.

Despite the return of direct flights from mainland China, tourist numbers arriving in Phuket during the past week have not been majorly impacted.

However, this is predicted to change as more flights and passengers start arriving from China, including mass tourist groups who will be permitted to travel overseas from next Monday (Feb 6).

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