By SUCHAT SRITAMA
Peter Pullem, SWISS vice president for Sales and Marketing International, yesterday said Bangkok was the first Southeast Asian destination in the carrier’s network to receive the new aircraft, which arrived this month.
The airline is commencing daily flights to Bangkok with brand-new cabin products on the Boeing 777-300ER, which replaces the Airbus A340-300 that has been used on the route, he said, adding that SWISS’s capacity on the route will increase by more than one-third as a result.
“This is a key milestone in the history of SWISS and we are very proud to bring this accomplishment to our customers and partners in Thailand,” the executive said.
Pullem said the airline was not unduly worried about the prevailing economic uncertainty in Europe, and especially the UK’s recent Brexit vote to leave the European Union, as it believed tourists would continue to travel to Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Dirk Grossmann, general manager for Passenger Sales Thailand and the Mekong Region at Germany’s Lufthansa Group – of which SWISS is a subsidiary – said the group had introduced Eurowings into the Thai market late last year in order to cope with the strong market in the region, and Bangkok continued to be an important Asian hub for the group’s operations.
SWISS’s new Boeing 777-300ER has a total of 340 seats: eight in first class, 62 in business class and 270 in economy.
The airline is offering three data packages for its inflight Internet option, with first-class customers being provided a 50MB package free of charge.
During the introductory period, the airline will be offering special fare deals for the Bangkok-Zurich route from July 29 to August 9.
A round-trip inclusive economy-class ticket starts at Bt21,000, well below the normal market price of about Bt28,000 and lower than the peak rate some years ago, which climbed to more than Bt30,000 on the route.
Currently, only SWISS and Thai Airways International operate the Bangkok-Zurich route.
Ivan Breiter, director for Southeast Asia at Switzerland Tourism, said the region had become an important source market for the country’s tourism.
Thailand is the leading source market in the region, while the Vietnamese market is growing rapidly, he said.
Myanmar, which has just opened its doors, is a highly promising market, while the tourism sector in Cambodia and Laos is on track, he added.
Last year, more than 98,000 Thais travelled to Switzerland, staying for a total of 160,000 nights.
After establishing a regional office in Singapore in 2012, Switzerland Tourism predicted that arrivals from Southeast Asia would grow by around 12 per cent per year until 2020.