19 April 2010
Calcutta is scheduled to get a fourth daily direct flight to Bangkok by next year.
Air Asia, a Malaysia-based low-cost carrier, plans to start flights between Calcutta and Bangkok soon. “We have approached the civil aviation ministry in India and expect to start operations by the middle of next year,” Tony Fernandes, the group chief executive officer of Air Asia, said in Kuala Lumpur.
The three existing daily direct flights between Calcutta and Bangkok are operated by Jet Airways, Thai Airways and Kingfisher. Air India Express, too, operates flights to Bangkok three days a week while Biman Bangladesh and GMG Airlines fly on the route through Dhaka.
Fernandes thinks Air Asia will have an advantage over Indian operators flying to Bangkok because of its “excellent” network. “We have connections from Bangkok to various other southeast Asian destinations, including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, which others don’t have,” he pointed out.
Fernandes also announced plans to spend $200 million for setting up budget hotels in India in the next two years. One such hotel may come up in Calcutta.
Travel industry sources said 800 people on an average flew to Bangkok from Calcutta daily. “For the past several decades, the sector has been drawing the maximum number of tourists from this region,” said Anil Punjabi, the chairman (east) of the Travel Agents Federation of India.