BANGKOK, Thailand (eTN) – The winter schedule 2011-12 will see Thai Airways International rising its profile in Europe, as Thailand’s national carrier will launch two new routes. The first route has already been in Thai Airways’ focus at least for two years, following Brussels Airlines’ inception into Star Alliance. At the time of the official integration of the carrier, Thai Airways already disclosed that it would be interested to fly to Brussels, providing by then the first direct schedule service between Belgium and Southeast Asia.
From November 17, 2011, the dream will turn into reality as the national carrier will introduce three weekly frequencies between Bangkok and the Belgian capital, Bangkok. The carrier will put into operation a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft fro; the newest generation. According to Pandit Chanapai, THAI Executive Vice President for Commercial, the airline is pleased with being the only Southeast Asian carrier to operate non-stop flights on the Bangkok-Brussels route with the purpose of not only serving the international business community, especially the one working in the European Union, but also leisure passengers from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France.
“They will also take advantage of direct flights into Bangkok to further connect to Thai domestic destinations, as well as other parts of Southeast Asia,” he declared. The Boeing B777-200 ER will be equipped in a two-class configuration offering 262 seats in economy class and 30 seats in Royal Silk Class. All passengers will enjoy personal inflight videos with the latest inflight entertainment system.
THAI’s direct service on flight TG934 will depart Bangkok on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 0030 hours and arrive in Brussels at 0700 hours. On the return, flight TG935 will depart Brussels on the same day at 1330 hours and arrive in Bangkok at 0620 hours on the next day. Total flight time on the Bangkok-Brussels route is 12 1/2 hours and 10 hours and 50 minutes on the return from Brussels-Bangkok. Brussels will become Thai Airways’ 72nd destination and its 14th destination in Europe, making it Southeast Asia’s largest carrier in Europe.
The airline also announced the launch of its first direct flights from Copenhagen to Phuket from this winter. Starting om November 11, 2011, the Thai carrier will operate 3 weekly rotations using a Boeing 747-400. The flight will only be served on the Copenhagen-Phuket route. On the return, passengers will have to transit via Copenhagen with frequencies on the route Bangkok-Copenhagen boosted from 7 to 10 weekly flights.
Thai’ commitment to Europe reflects the importance of European incoming markets for Thailand. In 2010, total arrivals from Europe to the kingdom reached 4.42 million visitors, representing 28% of all arrivals. Among Europeans, Scandinavian travelers reached last year close to 640,000 arrivals, representing a market share of 14.5%. Denmark alone accounted in 2010 for 152,000 travelers, up by 5.2% over 2009. Belgian figures are more modest with 80,000 arrivals in 2010, down slightly by 0.5%. However, in 2010, the neighboring Netherlands sent almost 197,000 travelers to Thailand, and it is likely that most of the Dutch living in the southern part of the Netherlands will favor Brussels as their departure gateway.