Saturday’s announcement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand means no inbound passenger flights to the kingdom until July 1st. The move will be another blow to stranded foreigners outside Thailand. It is also a signal to the country’s already devastated tourism industry and a huge number of informal workers who depend on it to survive, that there will be no quick return to normality.
Thailand is to remain closed off from external tourists and foreigners for at least 6 weeks after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced on Saturday that the ban on incoming passenger flights was being extended until July 1st.
Thailand has just announced that it is extending its ban on incoming flights into the kingdom until July 1st at the earliest.
The announcement on Saturday is a further blow for the devastated tourism industry and for foreigners outside Thailand with family or homes that have been cut off since the ban was imposed at the beginning of April.
Tourism has dried up and died in Thailand
Since its imposition in early April, many tourism firms have closed their doors as the industry has dried up.
Some experts estimate that this has directly impacted over 5 million Thai workers employed by the tourism industry with over 3 million of those in the informal sector.
Tourism accounts for at least 20% of employment in Thailand although it only 12 % of the kingdom’s GDP.
The prolonged closure of the country to foreign tourism is now set to cause structural changes to the industry as more firms and tourism facilities close their doors permanently and people look elsewhere for employment.
Flights worldwide scaled back drastically as other governments respond to the virus emergency
It is not altogether clear what the direct impact of this decision in itself might be as many flights throughout the world have already been scaled back or cancelled.
Other governments worldwide have also imposed both inbound and outgoing flight bans while the biggest airlines have also radically suspended their international services.
Today’s announcement, nonetheless, is a signal that this emergency and its economic impact on Thailand is becoming more extensive.
Precludes access to external foreigners desperate to reach the kingdom until July 1st at the earliest
The ban on incoming flights precludes access to the kingdom to many foreigners who have an association with Thailand or who are particularly eager to travel here.
Many of those stranded outside Thailand have homes and families here and have not been able to be reconciled with loved ones or resume their lives in the kingdom.
Aviation authority simply stated it was a Covid 19 measure to prevent the spread of the disease
Today’s announcement did not give any explanation except other than that it was to prevent the spread of the Covid 19 disease.
The decision was made by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand which has extended the ban imposed by Director-General, Chula Sukmanop, in early April which became effective on April 5th last.
At the time, it came after a mass refusal by hundreds of returning Thai nationals at Suvarnabhumi Airport to enter into quarantine on arrival as hey defied officials including a senior military officer.
All passenger flights are prohibited
The order prohibits all passenger flights from entering Thailand but allows military and cargo flights as well as specially approved flights such as regular repatriation missions being organised by Thai Airways in association with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Inbound flight ban makes outgoing flights more difficult to access and more expensive
The ban on inbound flights makes it more difficult also for those flying out of Thailand.
Passenger flights are still leaving from Thai airports to many world destinations but the prices being quoted are at least 40% higher than normal and many involve complicated and risky self-transfer requirements.
This also has implications for many tourists and foreigners still stranded in the kingdom and hoping to fly home as soon as possible.
Some domestic flights have resumed in Thailand
Some domestic air travel has resumed in the kingdom in recent weeks with flights from Chiang Mai, Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Rai, Don Mueang and Hat Yai back in service.
However, flights due to commence again on Saturday, May 16th from Phuket International Airport were cancelled in a surprise move by the national authority at the end of the week.