PATTAYA, 30 January 2018: European tour operators will welcome Qatar Airways newest service from its home-base Doha to Pattaya, a popular resort city on Thailand’s eastern seaboard.

Qatar Airways’ Dreamliner Boeing 787 landed for the first time, 29 January, at U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport, making it the fifth destination the airline serves directly from Doha.

The other four cities are Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Chiang Mai, a city in North Thailand served since last December.

Tourism Authority of Thailand’s director for the UK, Chris Lee, commenting on the latest service last week during the ATF in Chiang Mai saying the one-stop service from the UK would prompt tour operators to check out beach destinations along the coast from Pattaya to Chang Island in Trat province, close to the border with Cambodia.

“Qatar’s direct flights to five destinations in Thailand from Doha create the air links that encourage tour operators to look at holiday options beyond traditional gateway destinations,” he said.

Flight QR828 touched down at U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport just after 0630 and was welcomed with a traditional water cannon salute. The airline has scheduled four weekly services.

The arrival time says it all for the European holidaymaker who needs to make the most of their holiday time in Thailand.

Even the nonstop flights from Europe are arriving at Bangkok’s crowded Suvarnabhumi Airport around the same time, but passengers face long queues at immigration counters and at least a one hour overland transfer to reach Pattaya.

While U-tapao airport’s terminal is a tiny affair, compared with Suvarnahbumi Airport, the processing time for immigration and the bus transfers, either to resorts around Pattaya, or further afield in Rayong province (Samet island) are considerably shorter.

Pattaya is hosting the annual Thailand Travel Mart a trade show for tour operators, worldwide, this June and the emphasis will be on post-event field trips that showcase a variety of destinations strung along the coast as far as the Cambodian border next to Trat province.

“Flights like Qatar’s that fly direct to secondary destinations will cut travel times and open up lesser known resorts while reducing delays and down time transferring through gateway airports,” Lee noted.

A typical transfer from an inbound international flight arriving in Suvarnabhumi early morning to connect with a domestic flight to Krabi, Phuket or Chiang Mai can take more than two hours of queuing at immigration and security counters in the transfer hall.

Qatar Airways group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker said: “We are delighted to be the first Middle East airline to offer direct flights to Pattaya. Having also launched flights to Chiang Mai in Thailand just last month and soon to launch our sixth-daily flight to Bangkok, this new route reinforces and deepens the strong ties that exist between the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Thailand.

U-Tapao Airport Authority director, Rear Admiral Luechai Sri-Eamgool, added: “We warmly welcome Qatar Airways’ first direct flight from Doha to U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport.

“U-Tapao Airport is a cornerstone of the Eastern Economic Corridor that the Thailand government is aggressively developing. These new direct flights will open up further seamless air connectivity for tourists and business visitors looking to visit Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard, further boosting our tourism industry and also aid in the development of foreign investments into U-Tapao Pattaya.”

Qatar Airways’ new four-times-a-week service to Pattaya using its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, has 22 seats in business class and 232 seats in economy class.

The airline currently operates services 35 times a week to Bangkok, 14 times a week to Phuket, daily to Krabi, and as of last month, four times a week to Chiang Mai. The new four-times-weekly service to Pattaya increases the airline’s total weekly frequency to 64 flights a week to Thailand.

From 25 March, the airline will also increase its service to Bangkok to six daily flights, making the total number of flights operated to Thailand to 71 weekly flights.