While returning to the skies is the airlines’ right, they must operate flights differently, said CAAT Director-General Chula Sukmanop.
The airlines, mostly low-cost carriers, will meet the CAAT tomorrow to discuss guidelines and rules for restarting flights on May 1 following weeks of operational suspension as COVID-19 has caused air travel demand to dry up.
He said the rules, which factor in social distancing and disease-transmission prevention, include leaving empty seats in each row in cabins, requiring passengers to wear face masks and not serving food and drinks.
The May 1 flight resumption comes as a temporary ban on incoming foreign aircraft issued by the CAAT remains in effect until the end of the month, with exceptions made for some flights, including repatriation flights.
Thai-registered airlines which have put the brakes on their flights so far comprise national carrier Thai Airways International, its low-cost subsidiary, THAI Smile, Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X and Nok Air.
Meanwhile, international flights operated by Nok Scoot will remain suspended until the end of the month while Bangkok Airways has shelved its international flights indefinitely although its domestic flights have been halted until the end of the month.
At least four airlines – Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, Nok Air and Bangkok Airways – have announced they will restart domestic flights next month.
This week, the four airlines, as well as Vietjet Air, Thai AirAsia X and THAI Smile, sought a B16-billion bailout from the Finance Ministry to pay staff while their services are suspended.
Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation, the largest shareholder in Thai AirAsia, said the airlines had jointly decided to seek financial aid.
Meanwhile, THAI said on Tuesday it was sending repatriation flights to Sydney, Australia, and to Auckland, New Zealand, to bring Thai citizens home from April 25-27.
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