After an interruption of over two years, Hat Yai International Airport sees this winter the return of international flights on a scheduledbasis. In 2006, AirAsia terminated its fligts to Kuala Lumpur blaming poor load factors. Six months later, Tiger Airways stopped also serving Singapore as the worsening political situation in Southern Thailand and instability in Bangkok deterred local travellers to fly there. However, with stability being back in Thailand since early this year, demand is surging again for flights to Thailand’s largest Southern metropolis.
Tiger Airways is launching its flights from Nov 3rd with three weekly frequencies on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
A new regional Thai carrier, Happy Air, will at the same time launch a daily flight to Phuket and Langkawi. It will be a “triangle” flight linking Phuket-Hat Yai-Langkawi and Langkawi-Phuket-Hat Yai for the return. According to Sales Director Phatcharapon Sontipun, flights will be sold from 2,100 baht to 3,500 Baht one-way including the access to a VIP lounge”. Many airlines try already to fly Phuket-Hat Yai in the past without any success. How will Happy Air succeed? “ Previously, airlines flew with large aircraft such as 70 to 110-seater. However, market studies show that they are up to 40 people each day wanting to travel from Hat Yai to Phuket or vice-versa. As we only use a 34-seat aircraft and can already break even with 26 passengers, we believe we have the right product,” says Sontipun. In Langkawi, Happy Air sees a demand out of Phuket from tourists as well as from yachting activitiesas both islands have many marinas. Happy Air will have its website
ready for booking for agencies by the middle of October and for
indivduals from December.
Hat Yai is now looking to get flights again from and to Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia remains its main market. Firefly, the low cost subsidiary from Malaysia Airlines, has alreadyannounced its intention to serve Hat Yai out of Subang airport in KL. In June by Firefly managing director EddyLeong declared that new routes from Subang to Southern Thailand (Krabi and Hat Yai) were depending from the evolution of the political
situation in the country.
Malaysia and Singapore are hat Yai main source of foreign incoming travellers. They are mostly Chinese coming for cheap food and cheap “entertainment”. In 2008, Malaysian travellers to Hat Yai (in registered accommodation) reached 416,446 (-3%) while Singaporean
travellers reaching 82,966 travellers (-20.7%). Both Malaysia and Singapore represented 91% of all foreign tourists in commercial accommodation. Hat Yai total arrivals in commercial accommodation reached 1.54 million in 2008, down by 5.6% over 2007.