The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has announced that the international flight ban might not be lifted on 1st July 2020 as originally planned and when the ban is lifted, business people will probably be the first people allowed to travel.
Mr Chula Sukmanop, CAAT director-general, made the statement after meeting representatives from 10 commercial airlines operating both domestic and international flights, five private jet firms and four airport operators on Tuesday 16th June 2020.
The Director-general said it is not certain if the 1st July re-opening of airports to international flights will proceed. The ban went into effect on 27th April 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Mr Sukmanop said that before the ban is revoked, the Public Health Ministry must evaluate health safety and give the green light. Also, the “travel bubble” scheme will need to be negotiated where travel will resume progressively between Thailand and countries deemed safe from Covid-19 transmission.
Restoring international flights must take into account the issues of travel safety and whether destination countries have reopened their borders to Thai citizens.
He said CAAT has determined that not everyone will be able to fly out of the country immediately after the ban is lifted. Business people may be the first group to be permitted to travel overseas.
Business people and investors will need to undergo health checks before travelling. They are more prepared and better able to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 transmission than tourists.
His view is that business people are more resilient to the effects of the pandemic because they have the means at their disposal to pay for staying in a foreign country during an extended period of quarantine and if there are associated medical costs.
However, airlines will no longer have to leave empty seats on flights to keep passengers apart. The empty-seat measure has been opposed by airlines as it eats into the load factor and profits.
Passengers will still be required to wear masks during flights and airlines must install effective cabinet air filter systems.
The Director-general added food and drinks to be served on flights exceeding two hours must be in sealed containers. This is where airlines have raised queries.
Meanwhile, Thai Airways International is prepared to restart commercial flights on 1st August 2020 on lucrative routes.