Monday, October 30, 2006

Thailand and India tap into pilgrimage air-travel segment

Buddhist pilgrims heading for the holy sites in India are set to benefit from a bonanza of new flights connecting Bangkok directly to the cities of Bodhgaya and Varanasi as of the winter schedule 2006-07, effective this week.
The thrice-weekly flights each by INDIAN (formerly known as Indian airlines) and Thai Airways International will boost the position of Bangkok as an Asian aviation hub and allow both Thailand and India to tap into one of the fastest-growing segments of air travel _ pilgrimage tourism.
Both airlines will be operating to Bodhgaya on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, INDIAN using a 146-seat A320 and THAI a 149-seat Boeing 737-400. Larger aircraft cannot be used because of runway restrictions and inability to make night landings. Varanasi will be operated only by Thai Airways, but faces the same airport restrictions.
The flights will be entirely new for THAI and an upgrade for INDIAN, which has been operating a single weekly frequency to Bodhgaya from Bangkok since 2003, only during the winter season.
30/10/06 Imtiaz Muqbil/Bangkok Post, Thailand

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