One choice for Thais flying home

DUBAI, 2 September 2020: Emirates reintroduced its daily flight Dubai-Bangkok*, Tuesday, but only for foreign travellers who are eligible to enter Thailand under categories identified by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. 

Thai citizens stranded in the United Arab Emirates, or resident there, will still need to wait until 9 September for a repatriation flight operated by Etihad.

In response to questions from TTR Weekly, the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Dubai clarified the apparent contradictions between statements issued by Emirates and those posted on the embassy website 27 August concerning the relaunch of daily flights from Dubai. (See TTR Weekly report https://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2020/08/emirates-claims-bangkok-flights-are-back/)

In the statement to TTR Weekly, 1 September, the Consul in Dubai, Pornsiri Supanya said: “At present, ‘THAI NATIONALS’ residing in the UAE can only travel back to Thailand via repatriation flights organised by the Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Royal Thai Consulate-General in Dubai. The next repatriation flight to Bangkok which is being organised will be on 9 September 2020 by Etihad Airways, EY 406, as previously announced.”

The consul confirmed “Emirates Airline has been approved by the CAAT to operate commercial flights to Bangkok currently from 1 September to 24 October 2020. However, the above mentioned commercial flights are operating only for ‘NON-THAI NATIONALS’ in permitted types according to current Thai laws and regulations. Those who wish to enter Thailand via these commercial flights should study the guide procedures in the infographic.”

Clarifying the apparent contradictions in the embassy’s message posted on 27 August the consul said it was based on information made available in the absence of any input from Emirates or CAAT about the permission to start passenger services from 1 September to 24 October 2020.

According to the latest clarification, Thai citizens leaving the UAE need to queue and book an Etihad repatriation flight scheduled for 9 September while eligible foreigners have the choice of daily flights on Emirates.

In a broader context, the clarification raises the possibility that the same rule may apply to Thais stranded or living in cities in Europe and the UK where the three major Middle East airlines have restarted services to Dubai. There are connecting flights to Bangkok from their hubs that are now resuming in full compliance with CAAT rules. Do CAAT rules prohibit airlines (other than official repatriation flights) from transporting Thai citizens on commercial flights to Thailand via their gateway hubs?

If that is the case, Thai citizens may wonder why they are required to travel home only on designated repatriation flights organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when there are commercial alternatives openly selling competitive fares to Thailand?

Etihad, Qatar and Emirates all have services from points in Europe that connect with services out of their hubs (Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai) to Bangkok, Thailand. But for now, a least Thai citizens must wait for official repatriation flights to take them home.

*Note: Emirates cancelled the 1 September flight.

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