10 July, 2023

Aeroflot has resumed the regional programme of flights to Thailand

The Russian airline Aeroflot has resumed direct flights to Thailand from Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.  The carrier started flights on 7th July with a programme of flights from various regions. 

On 8th July, Aeroflot restarted flights to Bangkok from Irkutsk which will be offered on a twice weekly service and from Krasnoyarsk and Vladivostok which both started on Sunday 9th July. Also, direct flights to Phuket from Khabarovsk also started on Sunday and a flight from Novosibirsk will begin on 11th July.

At the start of the war in Ukraine following Russia's invasion and attack, the Thai foreign minister Tanee Sangrat, backed the United Nations resolution condemning Russian aggression and called for a withdrawal. However, in recent times the military authorities in Thailand have strengthed ties with Russia including providing financial assistance in foreign exchange. 

Since the covid pandemic restrictions were lifted, Russian tourists have flocked to Thailand and account for a major proportion of foreign visitors to the kingdom, a key ingredient to the financial prosperity of the country. Between 1st November 2022, and 21st January 2023, over 233,000 Russians arrived in Phuket, according to data from Phuket International Airport, making them the biggest group of visitors by far. Plus, tens of thousands of Russians, avoiding conscription, or the threat of it, as well as the economic situation in Russia, have arrived in Thailand to seek a new home. Many locals have complained about Russian people coming and taking over numerous jobs around Thailand, especially in the tourist areas, pushing Thai people out of work. 

The situation may change following the recent seismic shift in the political situation in the Asian country which saw Thais reject almost nine years of military rule in an election in May.  Scores of supporters of leading prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat held a rally in Bangkok yesterday ahead of a parliamentary vote for a new prime minister on Thursday. Pita recently said that Thailand "Definitely we need to engage the international community more. We have to rebalance. We have to speak out more, and we have to side with the rules-based world order. No words, no weight in foreign policy."

Pita is thought to adopt a more American viewpoint on the conflict than the previous military administration having graduated with a master's in public policy from Harvard University and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.