Qatar Plans Phuket Flights As International Tourism Set To Resume

Qatar Airways is resuming flights to the Thai resort island of Phuket. The airline will commence a four-times-a-week Boeing 787-8 service from July 1. Qatar Airways axed its Phuket flights in 2020 in the wake of the global travel downturn.

Qatar Airways is resuming flights to Phuket from July 1. Photo: Qatar Airways

Thailand re-opening Phuket to vaccinated travelers from July 1

The decision to return to Phuket coincides with Thailand reopening Phuket to vaccinated international travelers from July 1. This is despite Thailand suffering a third wave of COVID-19. On June 1, Thailand reported 2,230 new COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths.

A lot can change in the space of a month, but right now, Qatar Airways is locking in the flights. QR840 will push back from Doha at the eye-watering hour of 02:55 (local time) on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The flight will touch down at 13:30 on the same day, taking around six and a half hours to cover the 3,300 miles.

The return service to Doha, QR841, departs Phuket at the equally unsociable local time time of 02:30 on Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. QR841 will arrive in Doha at 05:30 on the same day.

The first flights will take off on Thursday, July 1. The Phuket flights will complement Qatar’s 12 weekly flights between Doha and Bangkok.

“With the resumption of flights to Phuket, Qatar Airways marks a significant milestone in the recovery of international tourism,” says Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “We look forward to working with our partners in Thailand to support the recovery of their tourism sector.”

Qatar’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners flying the route seat 232 passengers in a 3-3-3 configured economy class cabin and 22 passengers in business class. Sadly, Qatar Airways’ 787-8 aircraft do not feature QSuites in their business class cabin.

Nice seats, but alas no QSuites in Qatar Airways 787-8 business class cabins. Photo: Qatar Airways

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Airlines return as Phuket reopens

Qatar Airways is not the only airline heading back to Phuket when its airport re-opens to international travelers. In an update sent to travel agents last week, the Tourism Authority of Thailand revealed Thai Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and El Al are all due to resume or upgrade their passenger flights to Phuket.

Thai Airways plans to operate weekly triangle flights via Bangkok to Frankfurt, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Singapore, and Seoul from July 1. Emirates is already flying into Phuket four times a week but will upgrade to daily services from July 1.

El Al will commence weekly services to Phuket from July 1. Singapore Airlines has been steadily ramping up its services to Phuket since March and was due to start daily flights from June 1. There are also unconfirmed reports Cathay Pacific and Turkish Airlines will resume flights into Phuket on or around July 1.

There are worst places to spend seven days than Phuket. Photo: Qatar Airways

A neat backdoor into Bangkok

Thailand is battling another wave of COVID-19. But the Tourism Authority of Thailand says 50% of Phuket’s residents are already vaccinated. Thai authorities plan to have 70% vaccinated by July 1.

“To board flights to Phuket, travellers must present a valid negative  PCR test result within  72 hours of boarding the flight. They will still need to apply for a visa, buy insurance valued at USD100,000, and obtain a certificate of entry from the nearest Thai embassy,” the tourist authority says.

Under the rules, international travelers will only be allowed to deplane in Phuket and must remain there for seven days in approved accommodation. But after seven days and another COVID-19 test coming back clear, travelers are free to move around the rest of Thailand.

If you are keen to get back to Bangkok or Chang Mai, there are far worse places in the world to cool your heels for seven days than a resort in Phuket.