Ruilii readies for first flights to Thailand

CHIANG RAI, 21 March 2018: Ruili Airlines will launch services to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, this April, from the Chinese city of Jinghong.

They will be the airline’s first flights to Thailand offered by the Kunming-based airline and the first linking Jinghong to north Thailand towns.

The airline will offer four services weekly from Jinghong to Chiang Mai on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The flights will depart Jinghong at 1730 and arrive in Chiang Mai at 1930.

To Chiang Rai the airline will fly a three weekly service on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, departing Jinghong at 1730 and arriving in the far north Thai town at 1910.

Earlier, the airline said the new services would launch in late March, but revised the dates pushing them back a week.

Established in 2014, Ruili Airlines flies Boeing 737s on 34 routes in China and a service to Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

The two new routes are the only air links from Jinghong to the two northern Thai heritage towns, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Unfortunately for travel companies developing new travel routes, the flights will be pre-sold to Chinese travellers so there will no seats available for sale either in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to promote travel to Jinghong.

However, Jinghong has potential to attract tourists who are staying in the two Thai towns to extend their trips to the Chinese heritage town if seat sales were opened for the return leg.

Jinghong is the main city of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in the far south of China’s Yunnan province, and the historic capital of the former Tai kingdom of Sipsongpanna.

It is a well-known tourist destination in the so-called Mekong Region that spans six countries linked to the river (Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam).

Formerly the town was known as Chiang Rung and is now linked in tourism promotions to four other heritage cities that adopted in past times, or still use “Chiang” in their names. They are recognised as major heritage towns of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. The five “Chiangs” are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai  Chiang Tung (Kengtung, Myanmar) Chiang Rung (Jinghong, China) and Chiang Thong (Luang Prabang, Laos).