Thai airline says flights from China almost full

Good signs: Visitors at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok pose for photographs on arrival from China. Thailand is banking on Chinese tourists to lead a spending recovery as policy tweaks and new airport infrastructure bolster arrivals. — Bloomberg

BANGKOK: Thai Airways International Pcl says flights from China have been over 90% full after South-East Asia’s second-largest economy temporarily relaxed visa rules for visitors.

“We have seen significant growth in terms of Chinese traffic into Thailand,” the carrier’s chief commercial officer Korakot Chatasingha said.

Thailand is banking on Chinese visitors to lead a spending recovery as policy tweaks and new airport infrastructure bolster the tourism-dependent nation. Bangkok’s busiest airport just last week opened a new terminal.

Thai Airways, which is going through a debt restructuring after Covid, said last month it plans to increase its flights to five Chinese cities to 56 a week, up from 49, starting Dec 1.

Chinese visitors can enjoy visa-free entry to Thailand from Sept 25 to Feb 29 as the popular holiday destination seeks to boost flagging tourist numbers from Asia’s biggest economy.

Eight months into 2023, arrivals from China are only about 50% of pre-pandemic volumes, according to Korakot.

While Korakot was confident in the long-term recovery of Thailand’s largest source of foreign tourists, the airline is weighing whether to further increase China flights. — Bloomberg

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