Air Canada has launched North America’s only nonstop flight to Bangkok on December 1. Set to run from Vancouver (YVR) to the Thai capital three times every week, the new route will be available seasonally during winter.
Flag carrier Thai Airways previously operated nonstop flights between Bangkok (BKK) and Los Angeles (LAX) but scrapped the route in 2012. For a decade, North Americans had to make connections to reach Thailand, one of the world’s top tourist destinations. With Air Canada’s new nonstop flights to Bangkok, the region will be more accessible.
“Bangkok is also one of the most visited destinations globally,” said Mark Galardo, Air Canada’s senior vice president of network planning and revenue management. “We have optimized connections to and from our trans-pacific hub at YVR to give customers convenient travel options to explore this exciting city renowned for its history, cuisine, and culture or to conduct international business trade.”
The new flights come just after Thailand dropped its last pandemic-related entry restrictions on October 1. The country had previously required travelers to prove they had been fully vaccinated against COViD-19 at least 14 days before departure or take a negative antigen (ART) or PCR test within 72 hours of departure. Earlier in the pandemic, entry requirements had been even stricter and more demanding, with arrivals required to fill out lengthy online applications and carry lots of paperwork.
As they did globally, the restrictions devastated the Thai tourism industry. The country welcomed 39.8 million international visitors in 2019, falling under the 10 million mark in 2020. However, with restrictions finally lifted, Thailand predicts it will bring in 80% of its pre-pandemic tourism revenue in 2023, according to Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority.
According to Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, the new route will also boost fortunes in British Columbia, generating over $2.8 million in tourism spending and $1.5 million in GDP.
Additionally, the route aligns with the Canadian government’s ambitious Indo-Pacific strategy for renewed engagement with people and economies in the region. “Southeast Asia has been identified as playing a central role in Canada’s plans to step up its game in Asia over the next decade and beyond,” said Jeff Nankivell, President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
On Friday, December 1, the inaugural flight AC65 departed Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at 11 PM Pacific Standard Time. Following a 15-hour, 55-minute journey, it touched down at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) on Sunday at 6:33 AM local time. The outbound flight AC65 will run on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays until March 26, 2023. The returning AC66 will depart Bangkok at 8:30 AM Indochina Time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and arrive in Vancouver at 6:35 AM local time on the same calendar day. Boosted by tailwinds, the return journey takes around 13 hours.
On the route, the Canadian flag carrier is deploying its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, offering its passengers three cabins: Signature Class (Business Class) with pods and lie-flat seats; Premium Economy; and Economy.