January 09, 2017 01:00 By VIENTIANE TIMES ASIA NEWS NETWORK VIENTIANE
MORE overseas passenger flights are coming to Laos, which will further contribute to the growth of trade and tourism, according to an official in the sector.
A Department of Civil Aviation official, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times that many countries now operate direct flights to Laos, including some charter flights.
This included more flights from China. Previously, only China Eastern Airlines operated flights but they have now been joined by Sichuan Airlines and Hainan Airlines.
“Many Chinese people are flying to several destinations in Laos, and tourist attractions in China are also proving popular with scores of Lao people as well,” he said.
Foreign countries operating direct flights to Laos include China, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.
The department official said South Korea provides both scheduled and charter flights to Laos. Japan previously provided some charter passenger flights but these services have since ceased.
Lao Airlines also has flights to four cities in China, two cities in Thailand, two cities in Vietnam, two cities in South Korea, two cities in Cambodia, and to Singapore.
Foreign airlines have direct flights to three locations in Laos – Champassak and Luang Prabang provinces, and Vientiane.
Airline seat quotas on flights between Vientiane and Bangkok have been increased in an effort to promote trade, investment and tourism between the two destinations. Thai flights need to fill many seats each week with the quotas reportedly increasing to 14,500 seats.
Seat quotas are allocated to five airlines from Thailand: Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Thai Smile Airways and Nok Air. All five have regular flights between Thailand and Laos.
Under the new accord between Laos and Thailand, seats on flights between Vientiane and Bangkok will reportedly increase more than six-fold to 14,500 from 2,100.
On the Luang Prabang-Bangkok route, the number of seats will increase to 10,000 from 1,000. The Lao Department of Civil Aviation official noted there was no direct flight between Laos and Myanmar yet.According to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, visitor arrivals in Laos were expected to reach 4.3 million by the end of last year, representing an increase of 4 percent over 2015.
Foreign visitor arrivals increased from 2.7 million in 2011 to 4.1 million in 2015.