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Thai airlines warm to Iran, Russia

Thai national flag carrier adds Tehran, Moscow routes.

BANGKOK -- Charamporn Jotikasthira, president of Thai Airways International, announced on Wednesday that the national airline plans to open a Tehran service and resume flights to Moscow it discontinued in March last year. 

The Tehran route will start in October three times weekly, and Moscow will resume in November with four flights each week.

"The people there are wealthy and very sophisticated," Executive Vice President Teerapol Chotichanapibal told reporters about Iran. He said a team that went to Tehran returned "really excited" about prospects. The flag-carrier is in good company with budget airline Thai AirAsia X inaugurating its Tehran route later this month.

As for Moscow, Charamporn said reduced competition had been key to reinstating the service. "Rivals who are low-cost already closed down their businesses," he said, leaving only full-service carriers. He added that Russians tend to travel east rather than west for tourism and business. "Now the main destination for Russia is Thailand," he said.

According to Thailand's ministry of tourism, Russians accounted for 3% of total inbound tourists with some 884,000 arriving last year. 

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