Will the flight ban be extended in July?

BANGKOK, 27 May 2020: Popular Thailand travel blogger Richard Barrow says his gut feeling suggests the country’s ban on international flights could be extended when it expires at the end of June.

Fielding questions from foreigners who are desperately looking for ways to reunite with their families in Thailand he suggests they may have to wait months to re-enter Thailand.

Many of them are work-permit holders or they reside in Thailand on one-year retirement or marriage visas. The sudden ban on international travel left them stranded overseas unable to book flights to reunite with their families living in Thailand.

They were trapped overseas when the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand introduced the ban on international flights landing in Thailand 3 April and subsequently when the CAAT extended the ban until the 30 June.

Banning international flights except for repatriation of Thais allows the authority to test arriving passengers for Covid-19 and ensure the 14-day quarantine requirement does not overwhelm the available accommodation pool. 

While the travel industry desperately hopes CAAT will take its hand off the brake and allow international flights to resume, 1 July, Barrow points to the backlog of Thai nationals overseas still queueing for repatriation flights.

More than 8,000 Thais have joined repatriation flights home in May, but there are still 40,000 pending repatriation requests. Barrow says there is a long queue just dealing with Thais stranded overseas. They could overwhelm the quarantine process.

“When will foreigners be allowed back into Thailand? No-one knows for sure as a decision hasn’t been made yet. But we can make some educated guesses,” says Barrow on his public Facebook post.

He points out that only airlines offering repatriation flights for Thai nationals are currently allowed to land in Thailand.

“Sadly, foreigners with Thai families are not allowed on these flights. This is because there is a daily quota, and there are thousands of Thais still waiting to be repatriated.”

At present, the only foreigners who have a decent chance of travelling to Thailand are diplomats and work permit holders, even if commercial flights reopen. But will the flight ban be extended again?

Taking Barrow’s gut feeling appraisal, the odds favour extending the flight ban at least through July if for no other reason than to ensure the backlog of repatriation flights can be cleared before commercial travel reboots and stricter entry rules such as mandatory PCR swab tests and 14 days quarantine apply.

Barrow points out that “even if they reverse the ban on international flights to Thailand 1 July only diplomats and foreigners holding a work permit holders are identified on the travel approval list. No-one knows when they will update this list to include other categories of travellers. It may be months.”

So, if you are an optimist, then you may take heart when Barrow says the “earliest that foreigners will be allowed back into Thailand is now 1 July.”

But pessimists may note that the only eligible categories on the approval list of foreign travellers based on the current emergency decree are diplomats and work permit holders.

“Tourists and people who wish to enter Thailand on other visas might not be able to enter until later,” he warns.

Barrow’s comments won’t gel well with the tourism industry, which is fluffing over these practical details when it discusses recovery. It is expecting someone to throw the switch from lockdown to open house in one swift move, while the government clearly favours a phased reopening of its travel borders. A gradual reopening gives it time to set up and manage stricter health and entry measures, possibly to initially to facilitate just essential travel.

We assume that the government will ring the bell for tourism to resume in earnest in July while the facts suggest that Thailand’s tourism could be seriously curtailed by regulations and health guidelines until there is a vaccine or cure on the market possibly in mid-2021.

That is not exactly the outcome we envisaged when we first encountered Covid-19 back in late January. Back in January, we all thought this battle would be done and dusted by the end of June. Now we know there is no quick-fix for the Covid-19 crisis.

For more of Richard Barrow see https://twitter.com/RichardBarrow

or visit www.richardbarrow.com http://www.richardbarrow.com

7 COMMENTS

  1. Governments all over SE Asia (and East Asia in Fact) are doing the same, basically over-reacting, so they can show they are doing something. Plus it’s a convenient avenue to blame it on foreigners (i.e. look at China that officially caused an anti-foreigner sentiment when 90% of its imported cases are Chinese students returning to China). When you are down to 2-5-10 cases a day, it’s time to re-open the country and the economy, of course with requiring testing and quarantine (which I don’t object to). Let’s think about this: “Oh look, 2 tuberculosis cases in a day, time to close the country down” said no one ever.

  2. I totally agree with mr Collins. I’m married to a Thai
    Every time I enter Thailand it costs me, and never made easy.
    Can’t see this changing in near future.
    Lenny.

  3. I brought my Thai lady and son on March, we were supposed to travel back in May but now stuck in the U.K. till whenever. I am paying rent in a house in Thailand fortunately I have a house here in the UK.

  4. I cant wait to return to my favourite place, but Thailand is for Thais. Its a shame all countries dont protect their sovereignty. The UK if full of non British people and that does nothing for the indigenous children of our country. Sadly a foreign person is a foreign person in Thailand and you are not welcome although your money is. Thats life and it aint gonna change 🙂

  5. When I’m gone will I return to Thailand again ? Depends on this situation and w/vaccine. If corona vaccine required, I WON’T BE BACK !

  6. The govt is determined to beggar people on the street torpedo businesses and divide families and loved ones.theres no corona in the land and europes opening its tourism doors.whats the real reason?its obvious isnt it.?this will back fire dramatically as it just wont rub.even the apathetic will stop being the pathetic

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