Thailand’s international flights may not restart until September

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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.

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