Phuket, 15 December 2023 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) hosted a special airport ceremony to welcome Air India’s inaugural flight from Delhi to Phuket. The maiden Flight AI378, landing at 07.10 Hrs., was welcomed with a water cannon salute as it taxied to its gate where arriving passengers were then greeted by officials and figures as well as Thai traditional dance.
Mr. Sophon Suwannarat, Governor of Phuket, said “As Phuket’s high tourism season starts, coupled with the visa exemption, it is fantastic to welcome Air India’s new flights which will allow direct air access for Indian travellers. This famous island resort is already a much-loved destination for Indian travellers with beautiful beaches and a multitude of attractions and activities, including Carnival Magic, Andamanda, and Aquaria. We look forward to welcoming more Indian travellers to Phuket.”
The Governor of Phuket presided over the welcome ceremony together with officials and figures from TAT as well as Phuket’s public and private sector.
Also present at the event, Mrs. Patsee Permvongsenee, TAT Executive Director of ASEAN, South Asia and South Pacific Region, said “Air India’s nonstop service will provide a convenient connection between Delhi and the world-famous resort island of Phuket, which is well-established as a favourite destination for Indian travellers. Now especially is an opportune time for Indian travellers to visit Thailand to take advantage of the temporary tourist visa exemption which is available until 10 May 2024.”
Starting from 15 December 2023, Air India will operate on the Delhi-Phuket route with four flights per week every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. From January 2024, the service will become a daily operation.
The flight will be operated with an A320 neo aircraft offering 162 seats comprising 150 in Economy and 12 in Business Class. Flight AI 378 will depart from Delhi at 01.10 Hrs. to arrive in Phuket the same day at 07.10 Hrs. The return flight AI 379 will take off from Phuket at 08.10 Hrs and land in Delhi at 10.50 Hrs. on the same day.
Air India currently operates 26 flights to Bangkok per weeks with daily nonstop flights from Delhi and Mumbai and six flights per week from Kolkata. The new Delhi-Phuket service will provide a convenient air link between the two cities for tourism and trade, while further bolstering Air India’s expansion plans in East Asia and Southeast Asia.
Air India’s latest connection between Delhi and Phuket is part of the 2,438,043 air-seat capacity between Thailand and India in 2023, representing a 77% rebound over the pre-pandemic year in 2019. Specifically, during the six-month visa exemption period (November 2023-May 2024), the number of flights between the two nations will increase by 3.4% to 6,263 flights, while the number of seats will grow about 1.27% to 1,312,649 seats.
TAT expects the visa exemption will stimulate Indian travellers to travel more to Thailand and has rolled out promotional activities to boost interest. From now until 31 March 2024, TAT New Delhi Office offers a customised subsidy for corporate and incentive groups as well as weddings and celebrations. Meanwhile, TAT Mumbai Office will promote special tour packages with partners for revisits and golfers, and at the same time launch various publicity projects to increase the market awareness of Thailand as a wedding destination.
From 1 January to 10 December 2023, Thailand recorded 1,506,287 arrivals from India, making it the fourth largest source of visitors. The number already surpassed TAT’s ‘best case’ scenario projected at 1,425,000 visitors for the entire year.
Fuelled by the visa exemption, TAT expects the number of Indian tourists between November and December 2023 to increase by 4.3% or 70,000 travellers, bringing the total number for the entire year to 1,664,483.