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Thailand Sees No Mass International Flights Until Sept. Under Limited ‘Travel Bubble’ Strategy

Airlines uninterested in resuming service even if allowed July 1; First visitors to be business travelers, international school teachers from Japan, Switzerland

Suvarnabhumi International Airport Bangkok Thailand Terminal

Thailand may reopen its borders to international aviation next month, but few airlines seem interested.

Summarizing his Wednesday meeting with 14 airlines, Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand director Chula Sukmanop said today that he doesn’t see international flights in or out of Thailand resuming until September, even if the CAAT gives them the OK to start July 1.

With Thailand set limit the number of arrivals to as little as 1,000 per day and many other countries keeping their borders closed, resuming an international flight schedule would be a money-losing proposition for carriers.

Airlines also would have to impose numerous health measures that would suppress demand for air travel.

While carriers no longer would have to place empty seats between passengers – severely limiting load factors while also necessitating higher fares to cover costs – all passengers would have to wear masks and undergo temperature scans. Any passengers showing illness symptoms during flights would need to be separated.

Flight crews also would be required to wear masks and glvoes and food service would be limited to prepackaged meals served only on flights over two hours.

Thai officials up and down the bureaucracy have said general tourism will not resume next month. Instead, the country will sign bilateral or multilateral agreements to form “travel bubbles” between countries that have been equally successful in overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan confirmed today that it is in talks with Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia to allow business travelers, although an Aussie official was quoted on Wednesday as saying that country’s borders may remain closed until October. Japan also is moving to reinstate its visa-free entry to Thais.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Wednesday that will will advise Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to limit international arrivals to businesspeople and foreign teachers arriving to work at Thai international schools`.

Mentioning Japan as well as Switzerland as potential travel bubble partners, Anutin said trips between participating countries would be for participants in seminars, meetings and training; and for foreign teachers at international schools in Thailand.