The cabinet has approved an increase in the number of flights into Thailand by Russian airlines, to boost future tourism.

Russian airlines from any port of origin can increase services into Bangkok from 70 to 105 a week, and flights into Phuket can be doubled to 56 a week

There is also a reciprocal increase in the number of flights allowed by Thai airlines to Moscow, from 70 a week to 105, and to St Petersburg, from 28 flights to 56.

The increase was agreed in talks between the two governments before sent to the cabinet for approval on Tuesday.

Charter and regular airlines operating between the two countries have not filled the current limit, but Transport Minister Arkom Termpittayapaisith welcomed the decision.

The approval of additional services will encourage more tourists from Russia in future, he said.

Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket are among top choices for tourists from Russia, who arrive by both charter and regular flights. However, the economic slump in Russia led to a decline in their travel overseas.

About 884,000 Russians came to Thailand last year, a 44% drop from 1.6 million in 2014, according to Tourism Department figures.

“The number of tourists from Russia has declined but the figures are expected to increase in the future,” the minister said.

The sharp drop in tourists from Russia caused Thai Airways International to cease regular flights between Bangkok and Moscow as the national flag carrier dropped unprofitable routes under planned economic restructuring.

However, Thai Airways will relaunch the Moscow service on Dec 15, with four weekly services to the Russian capital, he added.