The Thai Airlines Association says that in the first 4 months of this year, domestic flights have returned to nearly 100% of their pre-pandemic level. However, international flights have still only reached 20% of pre-Covid-19 levels.
TAA president, Putthiphong Prasatthong-Osot, says the lifting of some travel restrictions has led to an increase in passenger numbers, but adds that it will take years for the aviation industry to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“We expect airlines to restore more domestic routes and also new routes to tourist destinations in the remaining 8 months of the year. This is more likely to happen after the Thailand Pass is cancelled.”
According to a Nation Thailand report, Putthiphong says that this year, Thailand’s airlines are expected to concentrate on short-haul destinations, including Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan, and the Maldives. Additional long-haul flights may be added from 2023.
“Opening of international flights still depends on the Covid-19 situation and screening policy of destination countries, especially in major markets such as China, India, Japan, Europe, and the Middle East.”
On May 1, Thailand ditched its Test & Go entry scheme, which had required all international travellers to undergo PCR testing on arrival and wait in a SHA Plus hotel room for the result. They were also required to have Covid-19 insurance coverage of US$50,000, which has now been reduced to US$10,000.
Since the cancellation of Test & Go, visitor numbers to the kingdom have increased. However, international passengers are still required to go through the Thailand Pass registration process and have proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated arrivals who do not take a pre-departure PCR test will be required to quarantine in a hotel for 5 days.
Putthiphong says that while the overall situation is improving, most people are now vaccinated, and several countries are lifting entry restrictions, the pandemic’s legacy will linger for some time to come.
“It could take years for the airline industry to recover to the same level as before the outbreak.”
SOURCE: Nation Thailand
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