Finnair has been running charter flights to Phuket in Thailand for a number of years. These have not been directly bookable, however, and so were not available for Avios redemptions.
From November 14th, these will become scheduled services.
Finnair will fly to Phuket three times a week and Krabi – from December – twice a week. These will be operated with A340 aircraft. I would put money on Finnair using the aircraft which are due for replacement next year and therefore will not be receiving the new fully flat business class seat. This is the old seat:
There are some good reasons to cheer this announcement:
British Airways availability to Thailand is generally poor
The direct Finnair flight to Phuket or Krabi, with a connection from the UK to Helsinki, will not be much less convenient than flying BA to Bangkok and taking a connection
Taxes will be substantially lower if you fly to Helsinki on a separate ticket to avoid long-haul Air Passenger Duty
Finnair flies from Manchester to Helsinki which makes this attractive for those in the regions
Seats are not yet available for sale at finnair.com as far as I can tell. Once they do appear, award seats will presumably also be bookable.