A direct flight between Luang Prabang province and Khon Kaen province in Thailand was officially launched on Friday by Laos’ first privately-owned airline, Lao Central Airlines Public Company (LCA).The flight aims to boost tourism between the two provinces as well as in the northern provinces of Laos and the north-eastern provinces of Thailand. “The service will benefit both countries,” Phongsavanh Group Chairman, Prof. Dr Od Phongsavanh, said at the opening ceremony at Khon Kaen airport. The ceremony was attended by Thai Transport Deputy Minister General Prin Suwannathat, Vientiane Vice Mayor Mr Somvandy Nathavong and LCA staff. Khon Kaen Governor Mr Somsak Suwansujarit said the flight was a valuable link between Khon Kaen and Luang Prabang. It would enable people in 20 provinces in the northeastern, or Isan area, of Thailand to visit the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang. “We also believe this flight will be attractive to overseas visitors coming to the north-east, or Isan, area of Thailand,” Mr Somsak said.In the past people in Thailand had to travel to Bangkok and take a flight from there to Luang Prabang. “It was a waste of time and extremely expensive,” Mr Somsak said.
Prof. Dr Od said the service will increase the number of visitors to Luang Prabang because the flight can carry about 150 people. The number of sightseers visiting Luang Prabang is growing each year. The province had 153,000 visitors in fiscal year 2009/10, more than 154,000 in 2010/11 and about 165,000 visitors so far this fiscal year, according to the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department. LCA will operate daily flights on this route early next year. “We may start to do this in February,” Prof. Dr Od said. “At present, we’re flying according to demand.”The airline plans to have two aircraft stationed at Khon Kaen airport to handle increased passenger demand.“According to our studies, there is a high demand for this route and we expect there could even be two or three flights per day,” Prof. Dr Od said.
LCA, which is part of the Phongsavanh Group, was established in May 2010 to operate commercial air services, both domestically and
internationally.It plans to add more jet aircraft to its fleet between now and 2015 with a view to operating new routes in Asia and to other continents. It has ordered nine new Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft from Russia, with some expected to arrive in Vientiane soon. LCA currently has two Boeing 737-400 aircraft, one with 168 seats and the other with 152 seats, which went into service in May this year on the Vientiane-Bangkok and Vientiane-Luang Prabang routes.
Vientiane Times, Vientiane Mai
18 December 2012