Thailand’s reopening isn’t just a boost for Thai tourism businesses; it also provided a ray of hope in Asia for the battered airline industry as the first reopening in the region. The Executive Chairman of Thai AirAsia’s largest shareholder, Asia Aviation, says this sets the tone for flights, the tourism economy, and businesses in the country.
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, the biggest hub in Thailand by far, has received requests from 60 airlines this month for 2,008 international commercial flights to land there. After the November 1 reopening, Thailand experienced a 25% jump in air traffic compared to last month, according to Aeronautical Radio of Thailand.
In the first 10 days of November, 2,243 international flights have landed in Thailand, as well as 6,651 domestic flight and 1,025 that crossed Thailand’s airspace, for a total of 9,919 flights in the air above Thailand. Aeronautical Radio of Thailand predicts that number will hit 30,000 to 32,000 per month on average in the coming months.
Thai AirAsia has been expanding its operating domestic flights since restarting them after August’s travel ban, operating 23 routes out of the 36 they normally run. They are now operating over 60 flights per day and expect to resume all the routes fully by January.
They are eying an imminent resumption of international flights as well before the end of the year. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Thai AirAsia had seen Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Chiang Rai, and Khon Kaen as their top 5 destinations in Thailand.
The Executive Chairman of Asia Aviation has suggested that the keys to Thailand’s successful air travel recovery is to reduce the cost of Covid-19 related expenses on the ground for travellers and to create international bubbles or sealed routes for easier travelling.
Right now, coming to Thailand has a lot of extra fees aside from just a plane ticket, with the cost of expensive RT-PCR tests before and after flying, plus health insurance and advanced booking of more pricey certified hotels. Eliminating or at least lessening these costs will make a trip to Thailand much more attractive.
Travel bubbles of key routes within Asia and between ASEAN countries would allow travellers to visit Thailand from these countries without the need to quarantine in Thailand or upon arriving back home. Thai tourists could also travel abroad more easily, and the back and forth means airlines in Thailand and abroad could schedule more flights and finally break even and work towards profitability again.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World and Bangkok Post
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