Competition is coming to one of the Israeli tourist's favor destinations. Arkia Airlines Ltd. is publishing its prices for its flights to Thailand, thereby inaugurating competition on the direct route previously operated only by El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL).
200,000 Israelis visit Thailand annually. Many of them fly via stopovers, for example on Royal Jordanian Airlines through Amman, Turkish Airlines or Pegasus through Istanbul, Ukrainian Airlines, Aeroflot, etc.
Arkia will operate its flights to Bangkok starting in July 2018 using Boeing 767-300s specially rented for these flights.
The prices published are $770 roundtrip and $2,000 for business class.
Arkia will operation two weekly flights in July and August 2018: one on Tuesday leaving Tel Aviv at 00:50 AM (on the night between Monday and Tuesday) and one on Friday at 3:30 PM. The return flights to Tel Aviv will take off on Tuesdays at 7:40 PM and on Saturday's at 7:40 PM (the latter flights are not suitable for Sabbath observers). Later, according to Arkia International CEO Oz Berlowitz, the frequency will be increased to three flights a week. The flights will take 11.5 hours on outgoing flights and 10.5 hours on incoming flights.
Arkia group CEO Nir Dagan said, "This is the beginning of a general step in which the company is equipping itself with wide-bodied airliners. Within two years, Arkia will receive more new wide-bodied planes that it has purchased, and Arkia will become an important player in long-range direct flights to destinations in demand among Israeli flyers, and in all directions." One of the Israeli destinations that Arkia is aiming at is New York.
The tickets will go on sales starting today on a discount ticket format with inflexible cancellation term, or as flexible tickets allowing changes and cancellations of flights. The Arkia website, for example, is offering tickets at the end of July (July 24, 27, and 31), for example, at prices starting at $429 per outgoing flight and $339 for an incoming flight - a starting roundtrip price of $770.
The number of seats is naturally limited, and those making early reservations can ensure themselves tickets at these prices. The prices will later climb to $509 in one direction, and it can be assumed that the price will continue rising in the summer.
The flexible ticket format is reflected in the price. For example, the cheapest ticket for sale at $339 cannot be canceled or changed. The next level is a $429 ticket, for which the date can be changed and which can be canceled on restrictive conditions. Next comes a ticket at $609, almost double the base price, for which the seat can be selected and changes and cancelations can be made. A business class ticket starts at $1,000 in one direction. In any case, the flights are completely direct, and include luggage and meals.
How much does a flight cost on El Al and the foreign airlines on those dates? On July 24, for example, non-direct flights start at $850, and climb to $950. A direct El Al flight on one of the Arkia dates will start at $950 (from July 24 for a week).
In the past, Thai Airways has also made inquiries about operating direct flights on the route to Israel. Two factors are deterring the Thai airline. One is the fact that it will not receive a grant from the Ministry of Tourism for operating the route (because the grant is given only for operating a flight from new destinations classified as incoming tourism-oriented). The other is that the flight route is lengthened because of the countries on the way, which makes it less worthwhile for Thai Airways.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 4, 2018
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