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24/08/2009 - Air Asia to make Phuket their regional hub  24/08/2009 - Air Asia to make Phuket their regional hub

Thai Air Asia have announced that they will launch direct flights from Phuket to several major cities in the region by the end of this year.  The cities will include Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City and Chiang Mai and services are expected to start in November.

The low-cost carrier plans to base five aircraft at Phuket International Airport and to establish Phuket as it146s Asian hub.  It expects the new services to attract an additional one million passengers per year.

Thai Air Asia CEO, Tassapon Bikleveld, speaking at a recent press conference said, "Some have questioned how we can expect such an increase with the state of the economy, but we have already reserved these planes so we will have to rely on marketing to get more people to travel to Thailand,”

The Vice President of Marketing for the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA), Mr Bhuritt Maswongsa was optimistic about the news, ''The PTA has worked hard for years to establish Phuket as a third regional hub for Southeast Asia after Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and Changi Airport in Singapore."

''The Phuket Tourist Association is also pushing Thai Airways International to launch a twice-weekly Frankfurt to Phuket route, either directly or via Bangkok" he continued.

''Virgin Blue's launch of direct flights from Perth, Brisbane and Sydney in Australia is another boon to Phuket tourism. Phuket is doing better than Pattaya and Chiang Mai, which are still struggling with the number of tourists. All incoming flights [to Phuket] are full." Mr Maswongsa went on to say.

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