Lao Airlines staff believe the number of Chinese customers could surge to 241,500 this year, an increase of about 42 per cent compared to last year when Chinese nationals made 170,500 flight reservations.

“We’re expecting a significant increase this year because Laos’ tourist attractions are becoming more well-known and there are more activities of interest to tourists.

“These are being promoted by the government and private sectors as well as our airline for Visit Laos-China Year,” said director of the airline’s commercial department, Noudeng Chanthaphasouk.

“We’re also offering special promotions on tickets purchased in the early part of this year. And we have special prices for groups, which vary depending on the route,” he added.

Lao Airlines now has more flights to China than to any other country and China is the airline’s main market.

Lao Airlines has 21 direct flights to China each week. From Vientiane seven flights go to Kunming, three to Guangzhou, two to Changsha, three to Chengdu, one to Changzhou, one to Shanghai, one to Wenzhou and two to Jinghong. There is also a flight from Luang Prabang to Changsha.

“Visit Laos-China Year will benefit our business – the demand for air transport will rise accordingly. We will earn more revenue from the increase in customers,” he added.

Lao Airlines plans to increase the number of flights from Vientiane to Shanghai from one to four each week to meet the anticipated customer demand this year.

Last year, Lao Airlines opened a new sector from Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Changsha in China’s Hunan province, aiming to attract more Chinese travellers.

The airline has seen a steady increase in the number of customers from China, rising from 145,615 people in 2017 to 170,500 last year. VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK