Saturday, January 30, 2010

New flights to Bangkok

A Thai delegation had a detailed discussion here in back-to-back meetings with chief minister Tarun Gogoi and industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi on the possibility of resumption of the Guwahati-Bangkok flight today.

Flights in the Guwahati-Bangkok sector, which had died a premature death after being introduced with much fanfare, may take off once again with Thailand evincing keen interest in resumption of the service.

The Thai team, led by the country’s ambassador to India, Krit Kraichitti, comprised commercial counsellor at the Thai embassy in New Delhi, Tharadol Thongruang, besides officials from Thai Airways, among others.

If the move fructifies, it would give a fillip to trade ties between the region and Thailand, which also forms the focus area of India’s Look East policy.

Gogoi, while welcoming the show of interest by Thailand, said all support would be provided to make the venture a success.

The chief minister even suggested a common tourism package given that there were similarities between the culture of Thailand and some parts of the Northeast.

He said tourism and other sectors would prosper if there was air connectivity between the Northeast and Thailand.

Sources said the chief minister even quipped that he would like to fly to Bangkok on the first flight of Thai Airways once operations resumed in the sector.

Prior to calling on Gogoi in the evening, the delegation had an interaction with Bordoloi and some senior industry department officials.

Sources said the Thai delegation would also meet officials of the Airports Authority of India to run a check on the facilities available at Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and the economics of operations.

Today’s interaction between Thailand and the Assam government was a follow-up to a meeting between the Thai ambassador and a delegation of the Industries and Trade Fair Association of Assam (ITFAA) in New Delhi recently.

“The ambassador was convinced and therefore decided to make an on-the-field assessment of the prospects,” an ITFAA official said.

The ITFAA had pushed for resumption of the service for the mutual benefit of the Northeast and Thailand during the meet.

In April 4, 2002, Air India had commenced bi-weekly international operations from Guwahati with a 200-seater Airbus 310 aircraft. In February 2006, the flight frequency was reduced to once a week before being closed down in July 2008 because of mounting losses.