BANGKOK, 19 May 2022: The Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT) says member airlines are under pressure to quickly reintroduce flight schedules in Thailand and to neighbouring countries to meet a surge in travel demand.
Association president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, who heads Bangkok Airways, said airlines are responding to the recent relaxation of Covid-19 travel restrictions. The intention is to restore flight networks within Southeast Asia to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.
In a report posted on the National News Bureau of Thailand’s website, the AAT president noted that the seven-member airlines* are speeding up plans to reopen local and international routes first in Southeast Asia to encourage short-haul travel.
Thai Vietjet so far has been the leader in opening routes to neighbouring countries during the first quarter. It recently introduced flights from Bangkok to Singapore and, in early June, will open a new route from Phuket to Singapore. It already services key destinations in Vietnam.
Puttipong told NNT he was confident that more routes would be available during the remaining seven months of 2022. According to the AAT president, reopening the nation to tourists from regions such as Japan, India, Europe, and the Middle East will play a crucial role in the recovery of the aviation industry.
He added that “short-haul” trips should make a strong comeback this year, while “long haul” travel kick should resume in early 2023.
Bangkok Airways reported it had resumed domestic flights from Bangkok to Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Lampang during the first quarter of the year. In addition, it reintroduced flights on the Samui – Phuket route and from Samui to U-Tapao, near Pattaya. It has also restarted flights from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, the capital of neighbouring Cambodia. But it is still waiting for clearance to resume flights to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos and other destinations in the Mekong region such as Myanmar and Vietnam.
*AAT member airlines: AirAsia, AirAsia X, Bangkok Airways, Lion Air, Nok Air, Vietjet, Thai Smile and Vietjet Air.