The news came at the meeting of the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee at Provincial Hall today (May 13).
Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana explained at the meeting that the formal request will ask for Phuket airport to resume operations from 00:01am Saturday (May 16).
The airport currently remains closed to all flights except government and or military aircraft; emergency landings; technical landing aircraft without passengers leaving the plane; aircraft providing humanitarian or medical aid; cargo aircraft; and any aircraft granted permission to repatriate foreigners to their home countries.
The airport has been closed since April 3 following an order by Dr Chula Sukmanop, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).
The current order for the airport to remain closed is set to expire at midnight this coming Friday night.
Soonthorn Sakdasawit from the Airports of Thailand management team at Phuket International Airport (AoT Phuket) explained three airlines – Air Asia, Nokair, and Vietjet – have confirmed to operate one round-trip serve between Phuket and Bangkok every day.
Only about 120 passengers will be permitted per flight due to the health regulations in effect to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, he added.
“There must be space between each passenger and some seats arranged for passengers who have suspicious symptoms during the flight,” he said.
The airport had been closed for 35 days, Mr Soonthorn noted.
“AoT Phuket has already arranged screening measures and installed five thermo scanners in areas of the airport,” he added.
Of note, Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai inspected Phuket airport for its readiness to reopen yesterday (May 12).
Currently all inbound international passenger flights are banned from entering Thailand under an order by the CAAT that at this stage is set to remain in effect until May 30.
The CAAT allowed limited domestic flights within Thailand to resume on May 1, with Nok Air, AirAsia, Thai Lion Air and Thai Vietjet Air reinstating flights between 14 provinces, but not Phuket, after a month-long suspension.
Further, a new order issued by the CAAT issued on May 3 granted permission to a slew of airports to operate special international flights, such as those repatriating foreign nationals or flying home Thai citizens, between 7am and 7pm each day.
That CAAT order allowed all international airports, including Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Samui, Surat Thani, Hat Yai and Hua Hin to handle special status international flights.
Meanwhile, Governor Phakaphong today explained that the move to open the airport comes as the Phuket Communicable Disease Committee seeks to re-open all “ports of entry” to the island, including by road or sea.
All persons arriving on the island will have to complete a form confirming that they have entered Phuket and install the “Mor Chan” app “so officials can follow up on disease investigation”, he said.
Governor Phakahaphong did not clarify whether the Mor Chan app includes tracking features.
“All arrivals on the island must observe a home quarantine,” Governor Phakaphong said.
He did not clarify whether any persons arriving on the island must first complete a 14-day self-quarantine and obtain a “Fit to Travel” permit from officials, as is currently required by any persons leaving the island in order to travel back to their home provinces.
“More details will be available later,” Governor Phakaphong said.
However, the Governor tempered any optimism for the island reopening with a warning that any decisions to reopen Phuket’s borders must first be approved by the Ministry of Interior in Bangkok.
“The province has proposed this [to happen] on May 16,” he said.