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Phuket Loses to Krabi as AirAsia Plans Regular Link to Macau's Casinos

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
PHUKET: The inability of Phuket to keep pace with an ever-expanding number of tourists means that the neighboring destination of Krabi will probably benefit at the expense of the Thai holiday island.

AirAsia has revealed that it has replaced initial plans to link Phuket with Macau, the casino hub near Hong Kong. Now the link is being considered to Krabi instead.

However, the low-cost carrier is delaying its plans to add flights between Thailand's holiday destinations and the casino capital of China until the political upheaval in Thailand settles.

The kidnapping of Chinese nationals in Sabah in Malaysia has also slowed expansion plans, according to a report in Macau Business Daily.

AirAsia's general manager of airport and network planning for Greater China, Celia Lao Sio Wun, confirmed that AirAsia is planning to launch scheduled flights between Macau and Krabi and Macau and Sabah in the first half of next year.

The original intention was to launch flights between Macau and Phuket as well as Sabah in the second half of this year.

''We did previously consider Phuket as a new destination, but the airport there has not undergone any expansion and there were no [time] slots available to land our flights,'' said Ms Lao.

''Krabi, on the other hand, can serve as a new base for us as their flight time slots are not as full as Phuket's. But the current political situation in Thailand does affect our expansion pace to launch more flights between here and the country.''

Phuket International Airport is undergoing an enlargement but the facility will still have just one runway, limiting the number of tourist arrivals for the forseeable future.

Environmentalists, worried about the rapid degradation of Phuket's beaches and coral reefs, believe that's no bad thing.

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