The national flag carriers of Saudi Arabia and Thailand are poised to resume flights between the two countries which recently restored full diplomatic ties, ending a 30-year-row over what became known as the “Blue Diamond Affair” - the 1989 theft of gems belonging to the House of Saudi by a Thai employee. A rare 50-carat blue diamond was never recovered.

Saudia (SV, Jeddah International) launches six weekly flights from Jeddah International via Riyadh to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi on February 28 with B787-9s and B787-10s, according to the ch-aviation schedules module. For its part, Thai Airways International (TG, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi) has announced plans for a direct service between Bangkok and Riyadh from May, but no schedules have yet been published.

The Bangkok Post cites Thai Airways Chief Commercial Officer Nond Kalinta as saying the airline had filed a plan for its flights to Saudi Arabia with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. The airline was evaluating passenger and cargo demand on the route to determine the frequencies needed.

The resumption of diplomatic relations also reopens cooperation on tourism with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) preparing to launch a tourism marketing campaign to attract Saudi tourists.

In 2017, a total of 33,517 Saudi nationals visited Thailand, but numbers dropped to 4,125 and 467 in 2020 and 2021 respectively due to the pandemic, the organisation said.

TAT Governor Yutthasak Supasorn said the agency planned to work with Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways to promote its tourism campaigns in the Middle East, but Saudia was a potential partner as well.