BANGKOK (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Thai Smile Airways will launch direct daily flights from Bangkok to Luang Prabang (the first Unesco World Heritage site in Laos) later this month, according to the TTR Weekly report.
Flights are scheduled to begin on Oct 30 following the introduction of a second daily Thai Smile flight from Bangkok to Vientiane. The airline now serves the Vientiane route with morning and afternoon flights.
“Using a fleet of A320s, Thai Smile will fly daily to Luang Prabang departing Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport at 0845 (WE576) and arriving in Luang Prabang at 1020. The return flight (WE577) will depart Luang Prabang at 1120 and arrive in Bangkok at 1255,” stated the TTR Weekly.
According to a web search, the cheapest roundtrip fare on Thai Smile is US$197. The flight time is one hour and 25 minutes.
Bangkok Airways will resume daily flights to Luang Prabang just one day after Thai Smile on November 1 from its Bangkok Suvarnabhumi base quoting a roundtrip fare starting at US$473, according to the TTR Weekly report.
Director of Lao Airlines’ Commercial Department, Noudeng Chanthaphasouk, said more airlines usually operate flights to Luang Prabang in the winter months to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to the World Heritage town.
“One of the main challenges for Luang Prabang is the significant drop in the number of visitors from Europe, America and other continents. Luang Prabang used to be home for tourists from Europe and other distant regions,” he said.
“The sharp decrease in visitors from Europe and other distant regions is due to the global economic downturn, the limited number of flights connected to Laos, and continuing Covid-19 related issues.”
However, Luang Prabang has seen a surge in the number of local tourists and Thai visitors coming through Laos-China railway.
Noudeng said Lao Airlines flies daily between Vientiane and Luang Prabang using an ATR72 aircraft, but the number of passengers has declined significantly due to the popularity of the Laos-China railway, which is a preferred form of travel due to lower costs.
There is currently one flight a day from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, down from three or four flights a day before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Noudeng said the airline will continue to operate the Vientiane-Luang Prabang route for the foreseeable future despite the falling number of passengers.
Earlier this month, Lao Airlines suspended flights between Vientiane and Oudomxay province after suffering a sharp downturn in the number of passengers.
On international routes, the airline has daily flights from Vientiane to Bangkok, four flights a week to Hanoi, two flights a week from Pakxe to Ho Chi Minh City, and three flights a week from Luang Prabang to Bangkok.