All the flights that take you to visa-free Thailand
Thirteen destinations in India are connected to Thailand with non-stop flights.
When IndiGo launched flights between Varanasi and Bangkok in 2018, the internet called it paap and prayashchit routes. The route is no longer in existence but demand to Bangkok and other places in Thailand is likely to shoot up starting November 10, 2023 when Thailand has become visa free for Indians until May 2024. In a bid to boost tourism, Thailand has included India in a list of visa-free countries for a limited period.
Thailand has always been a popular destination for Indians and the Thais view Indians and Chinese as a large source market for tours across cities as well as beach destinations. The visa-free policy will help aviation and not just carriers from Thailand but also from India.
How is the connectivity?
Currently four Indian carriers - Air India, Vistara, IndiGo and SpiceJet operate to destinations in Thailand. From the Thai side, Thai Airways, Thai Lion Air, Nok Air and Thai AirAsia. Interestingly, Bhutanese carriers also have limited presence on this route.
Data shared by OAG Aviation exclusively for this article shows that there are 53,265 weekly seats on offer each way between India and Thailand. Airlines operate 265 weekly flights each way between the two cities. Three airports in Thailand are directly connected with India, with Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang serving the same destination - Bangkok.
From India, there are non-stop flights to Thailand from 13 destinations in India. These include Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Gaya, Hyderabad, Bagdogra, Chennai, Lucknow, Kochi and Jaipur.
Delhi leads the connectivity with 71 weekly flights (64 to Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi, 7 to Phuket), followed by Mumbai with 60 (46 to Bangkok - Survarnabhumi, 7 to Phuket, 7 to Bangkok - Don Mueang). Kolkata comes in next at 46 (39 flights to Bangkok - Survarnabhumi, 7 to Bangkok - Don Mueang).
Beyond the non-stop flights, the Indian carriers are selling flights to Thailand from multiple cities in India with a stop at either Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata. Air India recently entered into an interline agreement with Bangkok Air which allows passengers to 7 points in Thailand beyond Bangkok - on a single ticket.
Options for all customers
After the domestic market, a handful of international markets are turning into ones dominated by LCCs. However, the India - Thailand market has remained a mix with just under 50% seats on offer being operated by full service carriers (Tata group Airlines and Thai Airways group airlines) with the low cost carriers, led by IndiGo.
Thai Airways deploys the most seats at 16382, while IndiGo comes in second with 10116 weekly seats. In terms of frequencies, Thai Airways operates 68 while Indigo operates 44 weekly frequencies.
India-Thailand traffic had peaked in Q4-CY19 with over 6 lakh passengers each way flying non-stop between the two countries and a few via other hubs in the region. The fall of Jet Airways and subsequent withdrawal of capacity from the market, coupled with COVID has meant that traffic hasn’t returned to those levels yet. The visa-free regime and publicity around it could help get that traffic back, which is a win-win for both Thailand and the airlines operating to Thailand.
Thailand has always been tourist friendly, with options of visa on Arrival for Indians. The visa-free regime essentially saves on the cost and time of a visa before travel, or the wait after arrival for visa on arrival and additionally the visa-free advertisement makes it attractive for travellers who do not have a plan yet and can make one at the last minute.
As for paap and prayaschit, in case you want to visit Varanasi after a trip to Bangkok, there are non-stop flights from 15 destinations in India to Varanasi.
Ameya Joshi is an aviation analyst.
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