The Lao head of the Party Central Committee for External Relations, Thongsavanh Phomvihane, met with a Russian delegation led by an MP and Secretary of the Moscow Capital Party Committee Denis Andreevich Parfenov this week, to discuss economic cooperation, including the possibility of launching a direct flight route between Vientiane and Moscow.
During the meeting, on 2 October, the parties stressed their interest in enhancing bilateral trade and boosting investment and tourism. The launch of a Moscow-Vientiane flight route would aim at increasing the number of tourists from Russia and bringing in more revenues and jobs in Laos.
More than 23,000 Russian tourists visited Laos in the first half of 2023, and this number is expected to increase in 2024, as Laos has designated the coming year as “Visit Laos Year 2024.”
Laos and Russia previously had a direct flight linking the two countries. The route was operated by Ural Airlines from Vladivostok to Vientiane Capital, but it was canceled in February 2023 due to limited demand and financial constraints, after starting operations just a few months earlier, in October 2022.
Now, a year later, Ural Airlines announced the resumption of flights from the port city of Vladivostok to Vientiane Capital for its winter schedule.
Ural Airlines will start operating a weekly flight from Vladivostok to Vientiane Capital starting on 29 October. The flight will depart Vladivostok at 9:30 a.m. and arrive in Vientiane at 3:50 p.m., with an estimated travel time of 6 hours and 20 minutes.
The return flight will depart from Vientiane to Vladivostok at 1:00 a.m. on 30 October and arrive at 7:35 a.m.
The two countries have a long history of close ties, but trade between them has never been highly profitable. In 2022, bilateral trade was valued at around USD 50 million, according to ASEAN Briefing.
To that end, the Russian delegation in Laos further discussed future plans to purchase Lao coffee and increase imports from Laos.