Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliners will be landing soon at U-Tapao Rayong - Pattaya International Airport.
In a major step toward becoming Bangkok’s third gateway, U-Tapao Rayong – Pattaya International Airport will welcome its first major long-range airline on 28 January 2018 when Qatar Airways launches non-stop flights linking the airport with its Doha hub.
Qatar Airways will operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with 22 seats in business class and 232 seats in economy class on flights between Doha International Airport and U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport on its winter schedule. At Doha, the airline will offer connections to and from Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.
The new service will operate four times a week. Qatar Airways will be the first Middle East airline to offer flights to and from Pattaya.
The flight will supplement the airline’s existing flights to Bangkok, Krabi, Phuket, and Chiang Mai. Flights to Chiang Mai will begin on 12 December 2017.
As Bangkok's two international airports are operating beyond capacity, the Thai government intends to turn U-Tapao into the country’s third major facility for airlines.
Passengers boarding an AirAsia flight at Don Mueang Intgernational Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
Originally built as a military air field, U-Tapao is already a hub for two budget carriers: Thai AirAsia and Nok Air.
Other airlines offering regularly scheduled service at the airport include Bangkok Airways, China Southern Airlines, Donghai Airlines, Hainan Airlines, and Kan Air.
Domestic travel destinations include Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Koh Samui, Phuket, Udon Thani, and Ubon Ratchathani.
Foreign travel destinations include Kuala Lumper, Malaysia; Macau; and three airports in China: Sanya, Shanghai-Pudong, and Shenzhen. There is also chartered service to Russia and other cities in China.
A park in downtown Bangkok, Thailand. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
In terms of serving Bangkok’s Central Business District, the airport does not compare favourably with the city’s two existing airports.
The drive to U-Tapao, however, takes a breathking 2 hours and 40 minutes, putting it in the same league as Tokyo’s famously inconvenient Narita International Airport.
The airport will, however, prove a boon to travelers wanting to reach Pattaya, one of Thailand’s most popular beach resorts.
Taking toll roads, the 120 kilometres drive from Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi Airport takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. The 160 kilometre drive from Pattaya to Don Mueang takes nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes.
The drive to U-Tapao Rayong – Pattaya International Airport, however, only takes between 45 minutes and an hour.
If Qatar Airways is the first major foreign airline to offer long-range service to U-Tapao, it will surely not be the last. Could Middle Eastern competitors Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways not be far behind?
What about such Asian powerhouses as All-Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Korean Air, or Singapore Airlines? And what about such European carriers as Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, and Swiss International Air Lines?
A new second terminal, which will increase airport capacity from 800,000 to three million persons per year, is set to open.
Airport director, Rear Adm Worapol Tongpricha, says the 620 million baht terminal is the start of a three-year, first-phase development, which will boost capacity from 800,000 passengers a year to 3 million.
In the second phase, the government will boost the capacity further to 15 million people.
Pattaya Bay as viewed from Cape Dara, where I spent two nights on a recent trip ton Thailand. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
Located on the popular southeast coast of Thailand, Pattaya and nearby Rayong are major destinations for sun-seekers looking to soak up the local culture or relax and bask on one of the areas extensive beaches.
Holiday-makers on the route are expected to come from Qatar Airways’ extensive network of destinations across Europe and the Middle East.
“We are delighted to announce the launch of our newest route to Pattaya in Thailand, our fifth route to one of Southeast Asia’s most popular destinations,” says Qatar Airways Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker.
“Thailand is continuing to grow in popularity with our passengers, who love traveling to this beautiful country to enjoy its incredible culture, cuisine and natural scenery.”