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Emirates keen on keeping Bangkok as SE Asia hub

Dubai-based airline Emirates said yesterday that its Thailand operation was doing fine so far and there had been no sign of flight cancellations because of the political demonstrations rocking Bangkok.

Even as political tensions rise, the airline says it is committed to continuing its service here as long as the airport is still safe and under the authorities' supervision, said Jabr al-Azeeby, Emirates' manager for Thailand and Indochina.

Thailand's image is still good, especially for those living in Dubai, for whom this country is one of the top tourism destinations. Also, the number of Europeans travelling via Dubai to Thailand is still on the rise.

From Bangkok, Emirates flies six times a day to Dubai. Two of the daily flights use the Airbus A380, the world's biggest passenger airliner. Also, the airline operates direct flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong, Sydney and Christchurch. It operates a daily direct flight from Dubai to Phuket.

Dubai is its major global hub, while Bangkok is considered its hub for Southeast Asia, with connections to three cities in the region. The Thai capital is expected to become even more important to the aviation business after the Asean Economic Community opens in 2015, through connections to other cities.

This year, Emirates' cabin factor is expected to reach 85 per cent and to increase in 2014. It says the rising number of low-cost carriers has not had any impact on its business performance.

Next year, Emirates plans to encourage its Thai passengers to spend a short time in Dubai before flying on to other cities. To that end, its passengers will be offered free 36-hour visas, special hotel rates starting at US$40 (Bt1,280) per night, 24-hour hotel check-in at any time with 24-hour stays, and special rates for exclusive tours and excursions.

Also, it will increase the number of flights offering on-board Wi-Fi. The service costs Bt80 per hour.

New routes from its Dubai base will be launched, with destinations including Kiev, Taipei and Boston.

Emirates has an all-wide-body fleet of 207 aircraft. It flies to 136 destinations in 77 nations.


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