Just two days after launching two new flights to China from U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya Airport, Thai AirAsia announced it would add three more routes to bring even more tourists to the Eastern Seaboard.
Airport Director Vice Adm. Wisansap Chanwarin joined Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya office Director Suladda Sarutilavan at Central Festival Pattaya Beach Sept. 28 to announce that the no-frills carrier would launch daily flights out of the military-run airfield to Macau, Singapore and Udon Thani on Nov 27.
(Back row, 2nd left to 2nd right) Vice Admiral Wisansap Chanwarin, Commander of the Naval Aviation and Director of U-Tapao Airport, Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Air Asia, Nadech Kugimiya, a well-known movie star as the presenter of Air Asia, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome, and TAT Pattaya Director Suladda Sarutilavan, kick off a festive announcement for AirAsia’s new routes.
To celebrate the three new routes, AirAsia will feature promotional fares from U-Tapao to Singapore and Macau available for booking from today to 11 October 2015 for travel from the start of service on 27 November 2015 to 29 October 2016. Bookings can be made through all channels, including; www.airasia.com, Counter Service, AirAsia Sales Offices and all branches of 7-11. The U-Tapao-Udon Thani route will be available very soon.
The announcement backs AirAsia’s claim that it plans to make U-Tapao its fifth full-fledge hub in Thailand, following Bangkok’s Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Krabi.
The carrier inaugurated its first direct flights 3-4 times a week out of U-Tapao to Nanning and Nanchang in southern China on Sept. 25 and 26, respectively. They have received a good response on this route, with load factors of 70-75%.
It also began regular flights from Kuala Lumpur to U-Tapao by its Malaysian parent AirAsia Bhd. in July.
“Thai AirAsia aims to expand roots in cities with fast growth and economies, especially U-Tapao airport, which is close to major cities like Rayong, Chonburi and Pattaya,” said Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld.
“The reason we’re continuing to launch new routes from U-Tapao is we see its potential and the opportunity to draw travel and investment to the Eastern Seaboard, be it to the popular entertainment destination Pattaya or Rayong’s industrial center,” he said.
Captain, crew and dignitaries welcome passengers aboard the first AirAsia flight U-Tapao to Nanning and Nanchang in southern China.
Itthiphol said having a Thai AirAsia base only 45 minutes from Pattaya will benefit the city due to the convenience of the airport’s location.
“We believe that this launch will benefit all involved and will expand more domestic and international flights in the future,” he said.
AirAsia now also offers city and island transfer services using shuttle buses and ferry boats that take passengers from U-Tapao to major travel destinations that include Koh Samet, Pattaya City (Central Festival) and Rayong, with plans to offer transfers to Koh Lan very soon. Passengers can book the service at www.airasia.com by selecting their origin and desired final destination.
By year-end, the airline will have stationed two Airbus A320s at U-Tapao.
Wisansap said that while U-Tapao still is not a completely commercial airport, it still has untapped potential and capacity.
“We aim to improve and build more terminals with the support of the navy to be able to reach our goals of 3 million passengers per year,’ he said. “The construction of the new terminals are estimated to be completed by February.”