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Domestic air travel drops 60 percent at start of 2021

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Domestic air travel drops 60 percent at start of 2021 | The Thaiger
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Thailand’s domestic air travel is seeing a 60% drop in the early weeks of the new year, thanks to the recent Covid-19 outbreaks around the country. The Department of Airports drew the figure from 20 airports under its supervison nationwide, according to Apirat Chaiwongnoi, the acting Director-General of the department.

Such domestic passengers at those airports also dropped in numbers from 30,000 per day before the new year, to 12,000, along with the number of aircraft in the sky dropping as well. Domestic travel was already well down on pre-Covid traffic levels, despite a slow increase over the past 6 months of 2020.

Apirat says before the long new year weekend, 160 flights went in and out of those airports on an average day, but now they have dropped by 40-60%, some parts of the country hit harder than others. He claims the reason for the drops is due to travellers not feeling confident of the effectiveness of the provinces’ quarantine measures in place. A Transport Ministry source says such heavy cancellations had started lodging with authorities from January 6.

Now, Apirat says the reduction in demand is forcing airlines to cut the amount of daily flights being offered. Some airlines are also asking the department to extend remedial measures, which include landing fee discounts, after they expired at the end of last year.

The executive vice-president of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand says the airline industry has suffered severe consequences due to the Covid pandemic. In Thailand, both domestic and international fights last year dropped 55% to 464,944, from just over 1 million in the year before. Thai Air Asia has also flagged the drastic drop in traffic, saying their business has been ‘destroyed’ by the second wave of the virus through Thailand.

However, a much-needed silver lining is on the way after Covid-19 vaccines are set to be distributed in many countries, including Thailand. The 2nd wave of the virus’ impact on flights will hopefully be short-term as officials are hoping tourism will bounce back later this year after the vaccines are distributed and start to affect the rise of new cases.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Shoppers disgruntled as registration for co-payment scheme fills up in 10 minutes

Maya Taylor

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Shoppers disgruntled as registration for co-payment scheme fills up in 10 minutes | The Thaiger
PHOTO: National News Bureau of Thailand

Social media users are up in arms after registration for the government’s Kon La Khreung (“Let’s Go Halves”) co-payment scheme filled up within 10 minutes. The scheme, first introduced as an economic stimulus measure in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, gives shoppers 50% off the purchase of everyday items, up to 150 baht a day and capped at 3,500 baht for the duration of the scheme.

The third phase of registration had a quota of 1.34 million users, but interested parties had to be quick. Having lost their chance to register, many disgruntled people took to social media to complain, with the hashtag #คนละครึ่งเฟส3 (#Let’s Go Halves3) trending on Twitter.

Several netizens say they filled out the online registration form at exactly 6.01am but were then forced to wait for the one-time password to be delivered to their phones before they could complete the process. In many instances, by the time they received the OTP code, registration was full. Some say they had to wait over 5 minutes to receive the password, which caused them to miss the small window for registration.

According to a Nation Thailand report, one person has described the scheme as nothing more than a government PR stunt, pointing out that, despite being funded by taxpayers’ money, only some people can avail of it.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Economy

BTS skytrain maximum fare rate increasing to 158 baht despite backlash

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BTS skytrain maximum fare rate increasing to 158 baht despite backlash | The Thaiger

Bangkok’s BTS skytrain maximum fare rate is being raised to 158 baht despite receiving backlash over the hike. The Transport Ministry is behind the calls for City Hall to stop the increase as it says it is too expensive for the average commuter who takes the BTS 2 times a day. Saksayam Chidchob, the Transport Minister, says other routes should be explored before increasing the costs for commuters.

“The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration should halt its policy on new BTS maximum fare and wait for other authorities to find proper solutions.”

The BMA and Transport Ministry were jointly appointed to set the fare’s ceiling in 2018, but it appears the BMA is now taking control of the new price hike. The BMA and Interior Ministry were previously responsible for granting concessions for the skytrain’s operation but the Transport Ministry is also part of the reviewing committee for extending the concessions and overall investments in the country’s mass transit system.

But deals are being made by the BMA that appear to ignore the Transport Ministry’s equal role in making decisions and the ministry says such actions are breaching co-investment laws. It isn’t the first time the BMA has made decisions without the Transport Ministry’s joint approval.

Before the new hike in fares, it previously extended concessions to the current Bangkok Mass Transit System in order to keep the fare ceiling at 65 baht. Now, making a new deal that would see passengers paying more than double in total fares across the skytrain system is being seen as pushing the envelope.

What is not clear is why the fares are being hiked when the country is suffering economically due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the new maximum is set to rollout on February 16, Bangkok’s governor has offered to bring the new maximum down to 104 for a short period of time in consideration of the recent Covid outbreak.

But even increasing the fare to 104 baht is being widely opposed. The secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution says even the discounted rate is too expensive for daily commuters. And, the date for the discount ending has not been announced.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme

Maya Taylor

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Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Finance Ministery is considering adding another registration round to the Khon La Khrueng (“Let’s Go Halves”) co-payment scheme, as 1.34 million rights have not yet been taken up. The government introduced the scheme last October, in an effort to stimulate the Covid-battered economy. Under the scheme, Thai citizens get a 50% subsidy on the purchase of food, drink and general products, up to 150 baht per person per day, to a maximum of 3,000 baht for the duration of the scheme. Those who sign up need to make purchases within 14 days of their registration.

The first phase got under way on October 23 and finished on December 31, with the government setting aside 30 billion baht to cover 10 million people. The second phase began on January 1 and runs until March 31, covering an additional 5 million people. The cap has also been raised from 3,000 to 3,500 baht.

Kulaya Tantitemit from the Fiscal Policy Office says that of the combined 15 million rights, 13.66 have been taken up. The Bangkok Post reports that those who have not received subsidy rights can register for the 1.34 million that remain by the end of this month.

The Finance Ministry is also considering a third phase of the scheme, based on the success of the first 2 phases, according to Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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