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Airlines look to vaccine rollout to restore demand and boost economy

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: iiitto / Flickr

Airlines are pinning their hopes on Thailand’s vaccine rollout as the key to restoring traveller confidence and boosting the economy. All eyes are on Phuket in particular, to see how the much-discussed sandbox re-opening fares. Wutthiphum Jurangkool, chief executive of Nok Air, says June has already seen a slight increase in bookings.

“After passenger traffic recorded a whopping 90% decrease in May, bookings this month have improved because of vaccinations and less worry regarding the third wave.”

Nok Air is expected to meet with creditors in August, with Wutthiphum hopeful they will approve a rehabilitation plan submitted by the carrier last month. The Bangkok Post reports that the airline has increased its flight frequency by 20% and plans to operate codeshare flights with Thai Airways. These flights would transport Phuket sandbox passengers to other parts of the country once they’ve completed their 14 days on Phuket.

Thai Vietjet is also hopeful that the vaccine rollout will improve traveller sentiment. Chief executive Woranate Laprabang says there may not be much demand for the Phuket sandbox scheme in the early days, but believes that international arrivals will pick up in August and really get going in October.

“Still, the mass vaccination scheme is a good sign. TVJ hopes the government will commit to its goal of vaccinating 70% the population this year.”

Meanwhile, Nuntaporn Komonsittivate from Thai Lion Air says the airline has seen a slight increase in demand this month as a number of provinces have managed to control the spread of the virus, thereby restoring traveller confidence. She has faith the vaccine rollout will further curtail the spread of Covid-19 and says TLA plans to add another 4 – 5 flights a day from Bangkok to Phuket from next month.

Nuntaporn says the introduction of international flights will depend on how Thailand is perceived overseas, pointing out that the country needs to be classified as low-risk in order to win the confidence of international tourists.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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