Thai Airways is preparing to suspend and shut down most of its capacity on April 1st, as the world goes under lockdown to combat the deadly coronavirus. The airline itself has been resistant to most changes, but due to many neighboring countries now closing their borders, the airline has decided to reduce capacity.
What are the details?
In a recent press release, Thai Airways outlined a new plan going forward in which they will be suspending many of its international routes, starting from the 25th of March (the day of this article publication).
The plan is to suspend services to the following destinations:
- Starting on 25 March 2020: Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo (Narita and Haneda), Osaka, Nagoya, Seoul, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Yangon, Singapore, Jakarta, Denpasar, Kunming, Xiamen, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Karachi, Kathmandu, Lahore, Dhaka, Islamabad, and Colombo. For domestic flights to Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Krabi will be transferred and operated by THAI Smile.
- Starting on 27 March 2020: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth
- Starting on 1 April 2020: THAI will cancel most of its flights to Europe which include to London, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Oslo, Moscow and Stockholm
With no more international destinations, the airline will be effectively shut down, at least for passengers. The carrier intends to continue doing cargo routes to various destinations in the region. Additionally, the airline is still available for charter operations by governments if needed.
How affected is Thai Airways by the virus?
The airline has been quick to point out that many of its route suspensions are not from Thailand itself struggling with the virus (although that is a factor), but rather many of the countries it operates to closing their borders.
“Several countries in Europe and Asia have intensely increased preventive measures including screening by local Ministries of Public Health and Civil Aviation Organizations as well as a national lockdown.” – Thai Airways in a statement
Until this moment, Thai Airways seemed to be one of the only airlines to be operating Australia to Europe routes. Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, and other Middle East carriers had closed their borders to transit passengers, and Singapore was much the same.
“Until 1 April 2020, foreign transit passengers who have a transit time in Thailand of no more than 24 hours are exempt from the above COVID-19 medical certification and insurance requirements” – posted on Smarttraveler.gov.au
The airline has a fleet of 80 aircraft, all of which are widebodies. It is with this fleet that they are able to fly to over 70 destinations around the world. Unlike the middle eastern carriers who rely on transit passengers, many of those flying Thai Airways are flying to Thailand itself for a holiday.
What do you do if you have a booking on Thai Airways?
If you have a booking on the airline, then you are recommended to get in touch and read the instructions published on its website. The airline also has a pretty generous policy for stranded passengers, giving them up to a year to redeem their tickets.
To facilitate customers, THAI allows passengers holding THAI and THAI Smile code-share flights air tickets, issued before 25 March 2020 with the following date of travel, to convert unused tickets to one-year valid travel voucher without fee and surcharges:
– Asian Routes during 25 March – 31 May 2020
– European, Australian and New Zealand Routes during 1 April – 31 May 2020
What do you think? Are you affected by this crisis? Let us know in the comments.