Thai AirAsia will launch daily direct service from its Bangkok hub to Luang Prabang in Laos on March 24.
"The opening of the new route from Don Mueang International Airport to Luang Prabang marks the completion |of our network of CLMV countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
"They are considered countries with great economic potential in Asean, as they are all brimming with resources and reasonably priced labour," Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive officer, said yesterday.
The low-cost carrier has been waiting in the wings for eight years to open this route, which will push the Asean Economic Community closer together, particularly Thailand and Laos.
Within Asean, the airline still does not operate to the Philippines and Brunei. However, Vientiane is most likely to be its next destination.
Luang Prabang was one of the top five destinations recommended to visit in the world, he said.
It is one of two CLMV cities along with Angkor Wat in Cambodia that are recommended to visit.
According to statistics, more than 4 million tourists visited Laos last year, with half of them coming from Thailand.
Arrivals from third countries are expected to increase as more flights are added.
Tourism contributes 3-4 per cent of Laos’ economy. It is expected to climb to 7 per cent in the near future.
The flight to Luang Prabang takes just over one hour from Bangkok.
"Luang Prabang has many distinct travel features, from its local lifestyle and culture to its natural attractions.
"This latest route also creates new investment opportunities. We are confident that as a friendly destination, Luang Prabang will quickly grow to be a popular place to visit for both Thai and international travellers," he said.
Tickets can now be booked at introductory fares starting at Bt990 until February 14 for travel from March 24 to February 5 of next year.
AirAsia Group has the most exten-|sive network of destinations in Asean. Thai AirAsia connects Thailand to seven Asean countries via 15 routes to 12 destinations.
Thai AirAsia carried 14.8 million passengers last year and expects to serve 16.9 million this year thanks to five new aircraft due to be delivered this year.
The airline celebrated a good past year in line with rising demand globally from falling fuel prices.