Tiger on the loose in Thailand

Singapore’s Tiger Airways has become the first carrier to operate scheduled international services at Udon Thani Airport in northeast Thailand.

The budget carrier earlier this week launched a thrice-weekly flight between Singapore and Udon Thani, which is also the only low-cost gateway to Laos. The Laotian capital Vientiane, which is only served by three full-service carriers, is only 75km or a one-hour drive from Udon Thani.

“Tiger Airways is delighted to be the first international carrier to operate scheduled flights at the new Udon Thani ‘International’ Airport,” says Tiger chief executive Tony Davis. “It is a great honour to be the first international carrier to serve Udon Thani and the people of northeast Thailand as well as providing greater access to Vientiane and Laos.”

Davis is pictured below (blue shirt and khaki pants) after the inaugural flight landed in Udon Thani on 9 January. He is accompanied by local tourism authority directors and the Thai and Laotian ambassadors to Singapore.

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Tiger now serves every region of Thailand, with 122 flights a week from Singapore to the capital Bangkok as well as Chiang Mai in the northwest and Hat Yai, Krabi and Phuket in the south.

Tiger has been able to rapidly expand its Thai operation because Singapore enjoys open skies with Thailand. But restrictive bilaterals with most other Asian countries have prevented Tiger from launching many potentially viable routes, including a service to Laos. The small landlocked country is an up-and-coming tourist destination but the only low-cost link is provided via Udon Thani, which is also served from Bangkok by Thai low-cost carriers Nok Air and Thai AirAsia. Vientiane is only served by tiny flag carrier Lao Airlines as well as Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

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