However, Mr Thanee branded posts circulating online warning that all flights to and from Phuket had been cancelled as fake news.
“Several airlines cancelled regular flights throughout January, but many airlines are still operating regular flights to Phuket,” Mr Thanee confirmed to The Phuket News today (Jan 6).
“Presently flights at Phuket International Airport are still operating as usual,” he added.
“Reports shared on social media that all flights to Phuket have been canceled is not true. It is fake news,” he repeated.
Mr Thanee explained that six domestic airlines had cancelled some of their regular flights, starting from Jan 4.
The six airlines – Nok Air, Thai Smile, Thai Air Asia, Thai Vietjet Air, Thai Lion Air and Bangkok Airways – mostly cancelled specific flights immediately after the New Year due to lack of demand, Mr Thanee noted.
In addition, at least seven regularly scheduled flights have also been cancelled for the rest of January, he added.
“The flights were cancelled as there are not enough passengers because people are not confident to travel due to the COVID-19 situation,” Mr Thanee said.
“Also, people are concerned about whether or not they will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine when they arrive in Phuket, hence some flights have also been postponed,” he added.
Mr Thanee explained that local news providers had been reporting that the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) was considering imposing a 14-day quarantine for domestic travellers. However, there has not yet been a decision on whether a mandatory quarantine for domestic travellers should be imposed.
Mr Thanee confirmed that at least 65 regular scheduled flights will still operate to Phuket throughout January.
“Passengers are still able to fly to Phuket International Airport, but all passengers must be scanned on arrival and must follow all COVID-19 protection measures,” he said.
Mr Thanee pointed out that the number of passengers passing through Phuket airport over the New Year was “less than expected”.
“We had estimated to have more than 10,000 passengers per day, but there were fewer passengers than we predicted,” he said.
According to the latest data airport staff could immediately provide this morning, a total of 493 flights operated to or from Phuket airport from Jan 1-5, altogether carrying a total of 38,915 passengers, as follows:
Jan 1 - 7,662 passengers (110 flights)
Jan 2 - 8,692 passengers (104 flights)
Jan 3 - 10,458 passengers (116 flights)
Jan 4 - 7,084 passengers (87 flights)
Jan 5 - 5,019 passengers (76 flights)
Direct international flights were also still operating to and from Phuket airport, Mr Thanee confirmed.
According to the figures provided to The Phuket News, Jan 1-2 saw one international flight each day, but with zero passengers. There were three international flights on Jan 5, carrying just four passengers.