Hua Hin Realises the Age of International Flight by George Mastronikolis
In what may prove to be a game-changing event for the local tourism industry;
Hua Hin airport has welcomed the inaugural Air Asia direct flight from Kuala Lumpur.
On May 18th Air Asia launched the first of the four times weekly flights linking Malaysia with Hua Hin. Hua Hin Airport Director Apisit Ubolkomut says his airport was fully prepared as the first inbound passengers were greeted by bevy of dignitaries, a traditional Thai dancing troop and local resort staff on hand with welcoming gift packages.
A host of local dignitaries were on hand in recognition of the significance of this international connection The two hour flights are now scheduled for each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing Kuala Lumpur at 10 AM local time, arriving in Hua Hin at 11 AM. From Hua Hin, flights depart at 11:30 AM local time, arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 2:35 PM. You’d expect to pay something under 3,000 THB for a return flight although this is date dependent with promotional deals available.
The inaugural flight saw the traditional fire truck escort with a torrent of water cascading over the arriving Airbus A320 carrying close to the 160 passenger capacity. In addition to the Hua Hin – Kuala Lumpur route, Air Asia is looking into the possibility of launching a Hua Hin-Chiang Mai route. The proposal would encourage more travel to popular destinations in Thailand, while at the same time reducing passenger traffic at both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. This would mean that after Hua Hin, Chiang Mai would be within easy reach for tourists arriving from Kuala Lumpur, which, in turn, would open up both destinations to people traveling not only from Malaysia but also from the likes of Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. Air Asia officials say this is a “wait and see” with the uptake of the Hua Hin to KL flights being one factor in determining the viability of extended routes.
At least one Kuala Lumpur tour operator is now advertising trips for Malaysians to play at several of Hua Hin’s international standard golf courses as the forerunner of exchanges between the locations. With a short flight and only a one hour time difference, this is a very inviting golfing interlude.
Local reactions to this new venture are hopeful but some remain skeptical with social media including comments from those who are aware of past ventures of previous commercial operators who failed to deliver on promises to link Hua Hin with either domestic or international destinations. However as the largest LCC carrier of passengers in Asia, AirAsia has the track record to make good on projections of over 55,000 passengers in the first year of operations and over 2 million annually by 2022.
Check out the flight details by visiting www. booking. airasia.com or visit the AirAsia office at the Hua Hin Airport during office hours where flights can be booked on the spot.