International flights at 20% of pre-Covid level: Thai Airlines Assoc
Thailand’s aviation industry has seen steady recovery in the first four months of 2022 with domestic flights at almost 100 per cent but international flights at only 20 per cent of pre-Covid levels, the Thai Airlines Association said.
Association president Putthiphong Prasatthong-Osot said international and domestic passenger numbers had been boosted by relaxed travel restrictions and the government’s economic and tourism stimulus campaigns. However, it could take years before the industry recovers to pre-Covid levels, he added.
“We expect airlines to restore more domestic routes and also new routes to tourist destinations in the remaining eight months of the year,” he said. “This is more likely to happen after the Thailand Pass is cancelled.”
Thai airlines this year were likely to focus on short-haul travel to destinations such as Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan and Maldives. He expects them to start adding more long-haul flights from 2023.
“Opening of international flights still depends on the Covid-19 situation and screening policy of destination countries, especially in major markets such as China, India, Japan, Europe and the Middle East,” Putthipong said.
The impact of Covid-19 would linger despite travel bans being lifted in many countries and most people being vaccinated, he added.
“It could take years for the airline industry to recover to the same level as before the outbreak.”
Thailand has seen a surge of foreign tourists since May 1, when it scrapped the pre-travel test requirement and lowered mandatory Covid insurance from $50,000 to $10,000.
However, visitors are still required to register via the Thailand Pass system and present proof of vaccination.
Only unvaccinated tourists without a pre-travel test now need to quarantine in a hotel for five days.