Thailand's flag carrier, Thai Airways, began its direct flights from Bangkok to İstanbul on December 1st. The airline, boasting the largest fleet in Thailand, operated its inaugural flight with a 321-seat A350-900 passenger aircraft departing from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to Istanbul. The first flight, numbered TG900, touched down at Istanbul Airport on December 2nd at 06:05, with the return flight from Istanbul taking place the same day at 16:30 in a ceremony attended by Thailand's Ambassador to Ankara, Apirat Sugondhabhirom. Thailand Tourism Authority Southern Europe Regional Director (TAT Rome Director) is Nanthasiri Ronnasiri also attended the ceremony.

Expected positive contribution to tourism

The airline will utilize its most modern aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 models, on the Istanbul-Bangkok route. These new direct flights will provide passengers wishing to travel to Thailand with a broader range of options. Additionally, authorities note that Thai Airways is offering more competitive ticket prices.

Established in 1960, Thai Airways is a founding member of Star Alliance. With the largest fleet in Thailand, the airline connects Europe with the Asia-Pacific, North Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia through its hub in Bangkok. The daily direct flights from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Istanbul are anticipated to positively contribute to the tourism sectors of both countries.

Thai Airways-1

Journalists flew to Bangkok

To mark the inauguration of Thai Airways regular flights, a special tour was organized for journalists from Türkiye and Italy to visit Thailand's capital, Bangkok. Accompanied by Thai Airways Marketing & Communication Deputy Manager Alessandro Falasconi and Tourism Authority of Thailand Italy Regional Manager Mario Degl'Innocenti, the journalists had the opportunity to explore Bangkok and its tourism potential. Speaking at the evening dinner held at the Jim Thompson Museum in Bangkok during the tour, Thai Airways Team Lead Rithavee Plikarnon said: 

Rithavee Plikarnon

“This new air route not only serves as a gateway between two vibrant cultural hubs but also stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to enhance connectivity and foster stronger ties between two nations. As we embark on this journey together, we envision fostering greater economic, cultural, and diplomatic exchange between two nations. This flight service signifies more than just a connection; it signifies the bond between two countries and the endless opportunities that lie ahead. Turkish Airlines is our aviation partner whose codeshare cooperation has globally broaden our network and connectivity.”

Apirat Sugondhabhirom

Ambassador speaks to TTN

During the ceremony held for the inaugural flight of Thai Airways, which has started regular flights to Istanbul, Ambassador Apirat Sugondhabhirom of Thailand answered TTN's questions as follows:

What has changed in tourism in Thailand after the pandemic?

Thailand welcomed more than 39 million visitors globally and more than 65,000 were from Türkiye. From the COVID situation worldwide is being improved and the tourism momentum is returning once again. Thailand has been welcoming more than 27,000 Turkish in the year 2022 and has been welcoming more than 56,000 Turkish since January 2023 which is 94% rebound from the same period of 2019.

Which products does Thailand want to stand out in the Turkish market?

Türkiye has a big potential and it is a very important market for us. We are focusing on promoting new tourism segments like culture and gastronomy tourism. We would like to host more women and honeymooners from Türkiye. We are focusing on women, honeymooners, families. We want them to Discover more about Thailand. We are also supporting tour operators who are operating culture tours to Thailand.

As well as promoting sport tourism, especially cantered around Muay Thai in Türkiye. Muay Thai has gained immense popularity worldwide, and Türkiye having numerous Muay Thai camps can be a significant draw for tourists interested in this martial art.

With Thai Airways starting to have direct flights, what is your expectation in terms increase in the number of visitors to Thailand from Türkiye?

It would be reasonable to expect an annual increase of at least 15%. It is a great advantage that both airlines offering direct flights to Thailand are Star Alliance members.

Which city are you planning to promote more in Thailand? What are your projects for this city in particular?

Koh Samui and Chiang Mai in the north are among the destinations we want to promote after Bangkok and Phuket. These are destinations that stand out with many different tourism products for honeymoon couples, female visitors and families.

How many Turkish visitors travelled to Thailand last year? How many do you foresee this year?

Thailand has been welcoming more than 27,000 Turkish in the year 2022 and has been welcoming more than 56,000 Turkish since January 2023 which is 94% rebound from the same period of 2019. Turkish arrivals forecast for 2023, is to reach 62,000.

What kind of diversity does Thailand offer in terms of gastronomy?

Thailand boasts a rich tapestry of culinary diversity with dishes influenced by various regions and cultures. You’ll find a blend of flavors and ingredients, such as the spicy dishes of Isaan in the northeast, the coconut-infused curries of the south, the aromatic and herbal dishes of the north, and the central region’s vibrant street food scene featuring dishes like pad thai and tom yum soup. Each region brings its unique twist to Thai cuisine, offering a wide array of flavors and culinary experiences.

Bangkok Trip

Editor: Mehmet Güneli