Thailand based regional carrier Bangkok Airways continues to have an original positioning in air transport in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The private airline is offering a full-service product to destinations within Thailand but also to an increasing number of regional destinations with a strong focus at linking Thailand to its Indochinese neighbours.
The airline celebrated in 2018 its 50th anniversary starting in 1968 as a charter carrier offering medical flights. Bangkok Airways is behind the emergence of Samui Island as a new seaside resort destination, building the airport on the island and opening the first links to Bangkok.
These days, Samui is one of the core business of Bangkok Airways as the airline offers between 15 and 30 flights a day depending on the season. Koh Samui is also linked by up to six daily flights to Phuket as well as once daily to Chiang Mai and U Tapao/Pattaya. Domestic routes represented earlier this year close to 67% of all seats on offer on Bangkok Airways with Bangkok-Samui representing alone 36,000 seats per week during the high season.
Pioneer airline in Indochina
Bangkok Airways pioneered in the early 1990s the first routes to Indochina with the opening of Bangkok-Siem Reap followed by Bangkok-Hue in Vietnam (the carrier was however forced to switch the route to Danang, It consequently abandoned the route until it was reopened in 2016).
Bangkok Airways was also the first airline to open the first international route linking Luang Prabang in Lao PDR to Bangkok. It also helps to put Trat in Central Thailand and Sukhothai in Northern Thailand on the international air map as it builds and manages the airports of both destinations.
Sukhothai is an exclusive Bangkok Airways airport built in traditional style
Bangkok Airways is a small player compared to other carriers in the region. Total passengers figure reached in 2017 close to 5.95 million passengers. According to the latest number of the airline, Bangkok Airways should finally pass the six-million passengers’ mark this year. The carriers fleet comprises 39 aircraft as it took delivery of one Airbus A319 in July while replacing an older ATR72 by the newest model. The airline has a total of 15 ATR72, 15 Airbus A319, and 9 Airbus A320.
ATR72 serve short regional routes out of Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Koh Samui. Out of Bangkok for example, the carrier offers ATR72 Lampang, Sukhothai or Trat but also to Luang Prabang (Laos) and Siem Reap (Cambodia).
Bangkok Airways network is very extensive. It has a network of 31 destinations in 10 countries including China and India at the end of 2018. Main air bases are Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Samui as well as increasingly Chiang Mai.
More flights between Thailand and Vietnam
Bangkok Airways also upgraded on December 17 the number of its frequencies from Bangkok to Mandalay offering two daily flights until the end of April instead of 11 weekly flights between both cities.
The latest development will see the opening on January 25, 2019, of four weekly frequencies from Bangkok to Cam Ranh/Nha Trang in Central Vietnam. Flights will take place on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday with a 144-seater Airbus A319 aircraft. In the Greater Mekong Sub-region, the airline is planning for the near future flights from Bangkok to Bagan – once the airport will be fully upgraded for international flights- and likely to Sihanoukville along Cambodia coast. The airline could also potentially serve Halong Bay out of Bangkok once the new Van Dong will be fully operational as well as Hue once the airport has been upgraded with a full-fledged international status.
Bangkok Airways ATR72 at Luang Prabang airport (photo: Luc Citrinot)
Within the Greater Mekong Subregion, Bangkok Airways serves the following destinations:
- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK)
- Chiang Mai
- Chiang Rai
- Hat Yai
- Mae Hong Son
- U Tapao-Pattaya
- Phnom Penh
- Siem Reap
- Luang Prabang
- Nay Pyi Daw
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Phu Quoc
- Cam Ranh/Nha Trang (starting 25/01/2019)
A decade ago, Bangkok Airways was rebranded as ‘Asia Boutique Airline’. Behind the slogan, the airline wants to emphasize its difference with other carriers by offering unique services to its passengers. The airline integrates into its fare a baggage allowance of 20 kg and 40 kg for its Blue Ribbon class (Premium class) and its best frequent flyer members.
All passengers -including the ones in Economy Class- have access to a lounge at airports such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Samui, Siem Reap, Sukhothai and Trat among others. Dedicated premium lounges are also available for Blue Ribbon passengers. Last but not least, a meal is always served on board, whatever the destination!
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