Thai domestic flights grounded

BANGKOK, 21 July 2021: Domestic flights to and from Bangkok and 12 provinces are grounded from 21 July to 3 August following an order issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand last Sunday.

Five domestic airlines join Thai AirAsia that had earlier signalled it was grounding flights in July.

CAAT banned airlines from transporting passengers to or from cities and provinces identified as “dark red” zones as part of the latest surveillance measures to slow the acceleration of Covid-19 daily infections that exceeds 10,000 and the escalation in daily fatalities that passed the 100-mark on Sunday.

Some essential flights such as cargo or medical evacuation will continue, but commercial airline travel in Thailand halts for all intents and purposes. There are just two commercial exemptions. Bangkok Airways’ three daily bubble flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok to Samui Island and a daily flight from Phuket to Samui remain. It’s a concession to keep the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus projects alive. Travellers arriving on Phuket Sandbox flights were told they could travel anywhere in Thailand once they completed 14 days on Phuket Island Covid-19 free. However, the flight lockdown means Phuket Sandbox travellers have just one flying option to Samui for the remainder of July.

The six airlines grounded are Bangkok Airways, Lion Air, Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, Thai Smile and Thai Vietjet.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand leaves the reopening date for flights literally in the air, although the airlines say flights will return on 3 August.

However, in its order, CAAT mentions that the Center for Situation Administration of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) will make a preliminary assessment after 14 days. It suggests that if the daily infection rate continues to climb, the flight ban to and from deep red zones may have to be extended.

Maximum and strict control area (dark red zones)  Thirteen provinces: Bangkok, Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Narathiwat, Pathum Thani, Pattani, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Yala, Songkhla, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon.

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