The director of Phuket International Airport says the facility will soon welcome direct flights from Saudi Arabia. Monchai Tanode says that from October, the Saudi flagship carrier Saudia will launch direct flights to the island.
The Bangkok Post reports that these will be the first direct flights between Saudi Arabia and Phuket since previously frosty relations between the two countries thawed last year. It follows the launch of Saudia’s flights to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, which began in February last year.
In March, a number of tourism roadshows were held in Saudi Arabia, organised by the Phuket Tourism Association, in a bid to boost tourism to the island during the low season.
Until recently, the relationship between both countries has been decidedly frosty for the last 3 decades. Saudi Arabia downgraded diplomatic ties with Thailand after the alleged involvement of a Thai national in the theft of jewels belonging to the Saudi state in 1989, as well as the murder of Saudi diplomats and the disappearance of a Saudi businessman in Bangkok.
The tension between both countries began to ease following PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s January 2022 official visit to Riyadh. Prayut had been invited by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who also serves as Saudi Arabia’s deputy PM and defence minister.
Monchai says Phuket Airport already welcomes a number of flights from other Middle-Eastern carriers, including Etihad and Emirates. The airport also receives international flights from Russia, South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India, according to the Bangkok Post report.
The airport director adds that since the end of the pandemic, traffic at the airport has continued to grow and is now back to 80% of pre-pandemic domestic flights and 70% of international.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post