TAT says Chinese airlines just returned extra time slots, did not cancel flights
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s governor said on Tuesday that Chinese airlines simply chose to return the extra time slots allocated to them.
TAT governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool was referring to reports carried by several Thai news websites that 10 Chinese airlines had cancelled flights to Thailand for the months of December and January due to lower-than-expected bookings.
She explained that no planned flights had been cancelled and airlines had simply dropped their extra time slots.
“The number of flights operated by Chinese airlines to Thailand remains unchanged. The returning of the extra slots does not affect the number of flights landing in Thailand,” Thapanee added.
She explained that Chinese airlines were required to do two things when flying into Thailand.
First, they are required to reserve time slots with both the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).
Second, they must seek flying permits from the airports they will land in as well as permits from CAAC and CAAT.
Thapanee said time slots are allocated for Chinese airlines based on two seasons – winter and summer.
Normally, CAAC and CAAT allow Chinese airlines to reserve their time slots based on their historic precedence, meaning they must use at least 80% of their reserved time slots.
During the Covid pandemic, CAAT allowed Chinese airlines to return their time slots and when China reopened early this year, the CAAC and CAAT allowed Chinese airlines to request time slots based on their pre-pandemic performance or about 13 million seats.
Thapanee said many Chinese airlines had reserved time slots based on their full-capacity 2019 quotas.
However, due to an economic slowdown, fewer Chinese tourists are flying to Thailand, prompting the airlines to return their extra time slots. This job needs to be done four weeks in advance.
Thapanee said there are three main factors that led to the return of the time slots, which are:
• Most Chinese airlines applied for full-capacity time slots, which was higher than real demand
• The slots they have returned are not popular, such as landing after midnight or slots when the airspace is busy
• Time slots did not match their departure permits in certain Chinese airports that do not allow flights after midnight
Thapanee added that she was informed by five TAT offices in China that several airlines will start flying to and from China and will also introduce new routes between the two countries. They include VietJet, China Eastern, Nok Air, 9 Air, Thai Lion Air and Air Asia.