AS TRADE ties quickly increase between Thailand and New Zealand, Thai Airways recently joined the Boeing Dreamliner club with stepped-up daily flights to Auckland, adding more than 65,000 seats to the route per year.

The upgraded service has proved successful for Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI), which has been operating for three decades in Auckland.

“We’re committed to helping grow and strengthen New Zealand’s market ties with Thailand through our new daily Dreamliner service, which offers business travellers 30 ‘royal silk class’ business seats to Bangkok daily, and boosts business class capacity by 40 per cent per week,” said Karun Sirarojanakul, the Thai Airways general manager for New Zealand.

The full services delivered a pleasurable experience, including business-class seating and sleeping on board the long-haul 787-9 Dreamliner that recently replaced the airline’s 777-200ER aircraft used on the route to Auckland since 2008

“THAI is the only airline that operates the Bangkok-Auckland-Bangkok route,” said Karun. Flight frequency on the route increased in 2016 from four flights to five flights per week, boosting weekly capacity by 25 per cent. That was again stepped up in 2017 to daily flights, boosting total capacity by 40 per cent per week.

Thailand is now New Zealand’s eighth largest trading partner, with goods trading between the countries increasing almost 150 per cent since the Closer Economic Partnership was signed in 2005, according to New Zealand Export and Trade website.

Total trade figures between New Zealand and Thailand now total $3.62 billion (Bt113.32 billion) and it is estimated the new THAI service is worth $53 million to New Zealand’s economy.

“The increase in service is great news for New Zealand and will inject $53 million annually into the New Zealand economy,” said Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport’s general manager for aeronautical commercial on the Auckland Airport website.

Beside its alliance, the four-star airline also operates code-share with non-alliance members including Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia, making it easier for passengers to access local destinations.

New Zealanders have a visa exemption for a one-month visit to Thailand.

“Thailand is a popular holiday destination for Kiwis, with more than 120,000 New Zealanders travelling there during the past year,” Karun said.

“The upgraded service will bring more travellers to Thailand, which is the travel and business hub of Asia. On the other hand, Thais can enjoy exploring adventurous experiences and attractive Maori culture here,” he added.

THAI has joined with Destination Rotorua, Ngai Tahu Tourism, and Auckland International Airport to promote travel between Thailand and New Zealand with special campaigns that end this month.

Joining the recent media trip, I experienced cultural destinations in Rotorua, an island city located in New Zealand’s North Island that is renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture.

THAI has launched the “Hello New Zealand” campaign for customers to mark the special occasion of its increased flights.

A special fare for economy-class travel on the Bangkok-Auckland-Bangkok route starts at Bt25,720 per person (fares are inclusive of applicable airport taxes for a minimum of two travel partners).

Royal Orchid Plus joined hands with New Zealand Immigration and offers ROP members (Platinum Member, Gold Card and Silver Card) plus one non-ROP member travel partner who holds a Thai passport and resides in Thailand, the chance to apply for a New Zealand Visa without presenting a bank statement. This offer will be valid until March 31, 2018 and is applicable for ROP members who have held silver card status for at least 12 months.

“Hello New Zealand” tour packages are available for those who prefer freedom when they travel. This includes a four-day North Island fly-and-drive package starting from Bt42,500 and a 10-day North and South Island fly-and-drive package starting from Bt74,900. These prices include economy class tickets, accommodation with breakfast and car rental (unlimited distance). The package also includes an iFREE Global Travel Sim card.

Meanwhile, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) and its subsidiaries have announced their results for 2017 with an operating profit of Bt2.85 billion (29.8 per cent lower than the same period last year). They attribute the drop to a 24.2 per cent increase in jet fuel prices, while average passenger yields decreased by 7.7 per cent due to the heavier competition and the reduction of fuel surcharges even though the average cabin factor was higher than last year.

After deduction of one-time expenses, mainly from the impairment of assets and aircraft and the loss on foreign currency exchange, THAI and its subsidiaries reported a net loss of just over Bt 2.07 billion.