The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) celebrated the commencement of Air India’s direct flights from Delhi to Phuket with a special airport ceremony. The inaugural Flight AI378, landing at 07:10 Hrs., marked the beginning of a new chapter in air connectivity between India and the renowned Thai destination.
The airport welcomed the maiden flight with a water cannon salute, creating a memorable entrance for arriving passengers who were greeted by officials, dignitaries, and traditional Thai dance. The Governor of Phuket, Mr. Sophon Suwannarat, expressed his excitement about the new connection, stating, “As Phuket’s high tourism season begins, coupled with the visa exemption, it is fantastic to welcome Air India’s new flights, providing direct access for Indian travelers.”
Starting from December 15, 2023, Air India will operate four flights per week on the Delhi-Phuket route, scheduled every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. This frequency is set to increase to a daily service from January 2024, catering to the growing demand for direct air access.
Mrs. Patsee Permvongsenee, TAT Executive Director of ASEAN, South Asia, and South Pacific Region, highlighted the convenience of Air India’s nonstop service, stating, “Now is an opportune time for Indian travelers to visit Thailand to take advantage of the temporary tourist visa exemption available until May 10, 2024.”
The flights will be operated with an A320 neo aircraft offering 162 seats, including 150 in Economy and 12 in Business Class. Departing from Delhi at 01:10 Hrs., Flight AI 378 is set to arrive in Phuket the same day at 07:10 Hrs., with the return flight AI 379 departing from Phuket at 08:10 Hrs. and landing in Delhi at 10:50 Hrs. on the same day.
This new route further strengthens Air India’s presence in East Asia and Southeast Asia, enhancing connectivity between Delhi and Phuket for both tourism and trade. Air India already operates 26 flights to Bangkok per week, showcasing its commitment to expanding its network in the region.
The Delhi-Phuket connection is a part of the 2,438,043 air-seat capacity between Thailand and India in 2023, representing a remarkable 77% rebound over the pre-pandemic year in 2019. During the six-month visa exemption period (November 2023-May 2024), the number of flights between the two nations is expected to increase by 3.4% to 6,263 flights, with the number of seats growing about 1.27% to 1,312,649 seats.
TAT anticipates that the visa exemption will stimulate Indian travelers to explore more of Thailand and has launched promotional activities to boost interest. Various initiatives, including custom subsidies for corporate and incentive groups, weddings, and celebrations, are in place until March 31, 2024.
With the visa exemption fueling travel, TAT expects the number of Indian tourists between November and December 2023 to increase by 4.3%, reaching 70,000 travelers, and bringing the total number for the entire year to 1,664,483, surpassing earlier projections.