Thai Carriers Ready To React To Domestic Flight Restrictions Easing

In a move designed to help revive the economy the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) said in a statement Sunday that it would allow some domestic flights to resume starting September 1, 2021. The announcement coincides with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the reopening of shopping malls in some of the country’s worst-hit provinces.

angkok Airways ATR 42-600 on final at Phuket airport
Some domestic flights from Bangkok will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity. Photo: Getty Images

As COVID-19 cases continued to grow following an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant, the CAAT banned flights from red Zone areas on July 21, 2021. Following a decrease in cases, domestic flights to and from Bangkok will now be allowed to operate at 75% capacity.

Thailand is trying to revive its economy

The Thai government is trying to revive a struggling economy that the arrival of the deadly virus has devasted. Thailands tourism sector has borne the brunt of the pandemic, with many people having lost their jobs. Pre-COVID-19 tourism was responsible for 20% of all jobs in Thailand and accounted for a fifth of Thailand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

While the resumption of domestic flights in Thailand is good news, passengers will have to follow strict measures, which include the following:

  • Proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • A negative Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test

Pattaya may delay its reopening to foreign tourists

The resumption of flights to 29 of the country’s worst-hit areas will also allow ThaiSmile, NokAir, AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, Thai VietJet to fly to the regions taking part in the tourism reopening scheme. Thailand planned to reopen popular tourist destinations to vaccinated tourists by the end of October following the successful reopening of Koh Samui and Phuket.

Nok Air Thai AirAsia
Nok Air and Thai AirAsia top resume some domestic flights from September. Photo: Getty Images

Despite having received nearly ten million foreign visitors in 2019, Pattaya wants to delay the reopening of its hotels following a spike in infections and the fact that only around 33% of people in Chon Buri province, where Pattaya is located, have been vaccinated. The plan was to have a vaccination rate of at least 70% before reopening to guests from overseas.

Only 11% of the Thai population is vaccinated

The new relaxed rules come as Thailand’s most significant wave of infections sees some easing. Earlier in the month, Thailand reported more than 23,000 new cases amid a highly infectious Delta variant outbreak. Yesterday Thailand reported 16,536 new cases and 264 deaths, and while that number seems high, authorities are confident that the downward trajectory will continue as more people get vaccinated.

Thai Air Asia Airbus A320-214
Only 11 million of Thailand’s population is vaccinated for COVID-19 Photo: Getty Images

According to newswire service Reuters, Thai government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said yesterday that the country should have received 140 million vaccine doses by the end of the year. Unlike many other countries, Thailand only started its mass vaccination program in June. Because of the late start, only 11 million of the countries population of 66 million are fully vaccinated.

What do you think about Thailand resuming domestic flights when only a small number of the population is vaccinated, and the Delta variant is present? Is it too soon, or is trying to boost the economy more important? Please tell us what you think in the comments.