VIENTIANE - Lao Airlines has announced it will inaugurate direct flight to Japan’s Tokyo Narita International Airport soon to handle the growing need for air transport between the two countries.
The exact date for the inauguration and ticket prices are still unknown, but details will be announced at a later date, an official of the airlines told the Vientiane Times yesterday.
Aircraft will fly three times a week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, according to the plan.
“The precise date to begin to operate the flight and air ticket price is still unknown. Details are expected to be announced soon and passengers can follow our official website or facebook site,” the official said.
The new air route will be the first regulated direct flight that the Lao national flag carrier operates to Japan. Previously, Lao Airlines operated shuttle flight to Japan, but stopped operating this service.
The company said in its announcement on Monday that the new air route was expected to boost economic development, investment and trade in Laos as well as the inflow of visitors to the country.
The planned opening of the new air route is also in line with the will of the government.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe during their meeting in June in Japan that Laos hoped to increase the exchange of people and goods by establishing direct flights between Laos and Japan promptly.
Lao Airlines now flies to major cities in Cambodia, China, Republic of Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Domestically, Lao Airlines operates flights to the provinces of Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Savannakhet and Champassak.
Recently, the airline announced it would re-launch direct flights from Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport to Singapore’s Changi International Airport starting on October 29 after halting the flight earlier this year.
In addition, the company plans to operate direct flights to additional destinations in Myanmar, Indonesia and on the island of Taiwan.
Along with its expansion, the company has registered growing numbers of passengers using its service.
In 2011, more than 531,000 passengers travelled with Lao Airlines and numbers climbed to more than 658,000 in 2012.
In 2015, more than 828,000 passengers flew with Lao Airlines including more than 504,000 foreign customers. Numbers rose to 924,924 people in 2016 including 543,422 foreigners.
An official of the company’s Marketing Department said the planned launch of the direct flight to Japan was to handle the growing air transport need, especially foreign visitors.
In 2016, Laos registered more than 4.23 million foreign visitors in total. Tourists from Japan accounted for almost 50,000, an increase from the 43,826 recorded in 2015, according to an information from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.