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Thailand’s international flights may not restart until September

Thailand’s international flights may not restart until September

BANGKOK: A senior director of civilian aviation recently said that international flights are not likely to resume in Thailand until late September.

By Andrew J Wood

Saturday 20 June 2020, 10:35AM

Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand director Chula Sukmanop, it was reported in Khaosod English language newspaper, recently said that none of the airlines he met had expressed interest in resuming their international flights by next month, when the order shutting down the country’s airspace is due to expire. He attributed the reluctance to uncertainty over the government’s policies on international travel.

“I believe international flights will resume this September,” Chula said. “All of the airlines could not assess the demand for air travel. They have to wait and see the situation by the end of this month.

“The government has to make a final decision before the country’s airspace could be open, but it does not mean an all-out opening for air travellers, since only business people would be allowed to take the flights under the so-called travel bubble proposals,” he added.

The Airports of Thailand (AoT) predicts a total resurgence of 493,800 flights and approximately 66.58 million passengers between October 2019 and September 2020. The assumptions are made based on the resumption of a limited number of domestic flights in May and then a slow ramping up of flight schedules.

At a recent Amcham organised webinar under the banner “Thailand Tourism Forum 2020 - Temperature Check”  earlier this week presenter Charles Blocker CEO IC Partners Ltd reported that 22 of 38 Thai airports were open  (58%) but with only 50% ‘normal’  flight capacity and 25-30% of seats occupied. 

Although flights have resumed (domestic only) the AoT think getting back to normal volume however will take longer. Looking at the long range forecast for recovery AoT announced flights won’t return to ‘normal’ before October 2021.

The president of Airports of Thailand, Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, reported that air travel should be back to pre-COVID-19 levels by October 2021, 18 months away. But for the rest of this year, the Thai aviation sector is expecting a significant drop in flights and passenger numbers.

“Recovery of international routes will depend on how quickly a vaccine or antiviral drugs can be made available.

“Total flights and passengers will drop by 44.9% and 53.1% respectively, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he told the Nation Thailand.

“Thailand’s important destination countries are countries in the Asia-Pacific region which account for over 80% of our travel.”

Government sources say containment of the COVID-19 virus are dependent on varying measures adopted by different countries, some more stringent than others.

It’s predicted that the domestic flight sector will recover first, as recovery of international routes will depend on how quickly a vaccine or antiviral drugs can be made available.

Thailand’s airspace has been closed to international flights since April due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only essential journeys such as repatriation and diplomatic flights were allowed to fly into the country, though most domestic flights have resumed after weeks of waning infections in the country with no new infections being reported for 24 days. Thailand has only had 3,146 reports of COVID-19 cases and only 58 deaths in total compared to a global total of 8.58 million cases and 456,384 deaths. 

The aviation agency also announced a set of new safety measures during a meeting with airlines and airport operators on Tuesday.

Under the new regulations, air carriers are no longer required to leave empty seats between passengers, but passengers are still needed to wear face masks throughout the journey.

Food and beverages may only be served on flights exceeding two hours and they must be prepared in a sealed container. Airlines are also required to prepare a space in the cabin to separate sick passengers from others.

Domestic flights were previously allowed to charge up almost twice the original fare since they had to leave many seats empty to ensure social distancing. The civil aviation chief expected the fares to be lower, thanks to the recent measures easing restrictions on travelling.

Mr Blocker, the IC Partners’ CEO suggested that it was likely that stringent measures for foreign arrivals might lessen going forward, and the 14-day quarantine may be waived by the government. 


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Little Tommy Tucker | 23 June 2020 - 17:55:35

There are already international flights, and I do not mean just repatriation flights. Admittedly they are flights out of the country, but to say there are NO international flights is a tad misleading. Is there any need for tourist flights before the high season. I'm jolly glad I'm not a tourist otherwise I'd be right hacked off. Weather has been lousy.

Sandbar | 23 June 2020 - 11:57:49

Write this year off as a bad debt. 2021 first quarter will still be an unknown? 
Find a vaccine then all your questions will be answered. 

DeKaaskopp | 23 June 2020 - 11:46:33

Oh dear Kurt,where is it said in my comment that there is enough food for all contributed by the Or Bor Jor's ? A simple enlightening comment to your question and even that you got wrong. Hopeless !

Kurt | 23 June 2020 - 10:24:31

@Thorfinger, we don't have to worry. From DeK we learned here that all food supplies to the 'Needy' is in safe contributing hands of  O Bor Jor's all over Phuket. Even to foreigners. All fine on Phuket, food wise (???).

LALALA | 22 June 2020 - 14:11:47

Charles... there been never any significant support to foreign business owners in LOS, and BigA, yes you are absolute correct. Let them solve their problem themselves, it is their country.

ThorFinger | 22 June 2020 - 11:24:23

BigA unfortunately it is the lowest in the chain that suffer the most. As a Global community i feel we have a responsibility to help where it is required. And it is required here. We now supply food to a small number of Phuket people thanks to the generosity of friends in Australia. If we don't open to international tourism soon the people are going to need more and more help.

GerryT81 | 22 June 2020 - 10:19:51

@BigA   You mean those protests like in Germany where shops are destroyed and plundered ? If you don't wanna help,ok,just go on with being a selfish old man.

BigA | 22 June 2020 - 09:14:08

As long as the Thai's here on Phuket not take to the street nothing is going to change ! You as farang have nothing to say! Just spend your money and go! I stop helping any of this free food places until the Thai's them selve do something ! Period! Horst

DeKaaskopp | 21 June 2020 - 21:33:16

probably not the richest province anymore.No tourists-no income. Surprised you didn't notice.

DeKaaskopp | 21 June 2020 - 21:30:53

" But I have no knowledge of...."  Kurt,that's no news,but I'm glad to help you out here.Or Bor Jor's all over Phuket did  and still do distribute "Care Packages" or meals to the needy. Even to foreigners.
And Kurt,the tax system in Thailand didn't change because of Covid19 and the money still goes to Bangkok first.And Kurt,due to the last 3-4 months  Phuket is...

charles | 21 June 2020 - 12:09:20

this is just crazy, as a business operator in Phuket we can't afford to be shut down another 3 months without tourists arriving to book anything. Bills still have to be paid, most landlords have not been willing to delay rents or reduce them, There has been no support for foreign owed business since the beginning of this & shortly a lot of these businesses will  no longer have any funds le...

Kurt | 21 June 2020 - 11:52:08

@Thorfinger.  Good question, "who is going to feed people"?  So far it are private initiatives, I do support also financially. But I have no knowledge of Phuket Government supporting her own hungry people. Do you? Anyone knows what Government of the richest province is doing in this field? Yes, Don't tell me again Phuket money has to go to BKK, prior fighting starvation here.

Kurt | 21 June 2020 - 11:20:00

...There is no 'travel trust'.  And pulling a Covid-19 vaccine availability into the travel discussion it not much of help when it comes to international flying this year. 
(No high season) Scary to fly now with no empty seats between passengers. Even business people will say: 'No, thanks, I will do with video conference for time being'. Not risking my health for a 5 day business ...

Kurt | 21 June 2020 - 11:05:51

Chula said clearly that no airline is interested in resuming flights to Thailand ( and than only for business people & 'technicians') as long the Government not write in stone clearly what/when things happen and guarantee it.Travellers learned their lesson, booking, paying, flights cancelled, get vouchers ( get your money back after 6 months, may be. Pffff). There is no 'travel tru...

Kurt | 21 June 2020 - 10:50:43

@ThorFinger, a good question for Min Anutin who so far not has matched New Normal with Travel bubble.( which countries?) Until than no tourist interest in Thailand. To many questions: when international flying guarantee? July? Sept? Oct? ( maybe October the 2nd Covid wave starts?) A tourist, having a annual holiday leave of 3 weeks doesn't coop now with Thailand's uncertainties.

ThorFinger | 20 June 2020 - 22:47:52

So what do we do as business operators? Go bankrupt? Another 3 months without any money coming in? Are you kidding me? Who is going to feed the people?

Galong | 20 June 2020 - 19:01:41

Thailand is becoming the 'hub' of wishy-washy policies. How many potential travlers would wait for a Nov - Dec air ticket? I wouldn't. I'd just go to a more welcoming country. The gov obviously cares about as much about tourism as they do highway fatalities.

ericphuket | 20 June 2020 - 13:41:17

For how long will be hijacked in Thailand. 
Human rights say that travel is a basic right for people.
Maldives are smarter and reopen on july 1st  
and will take the first tourits.
Unfortunately we have here brainless people in the government 


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