Airlines scramble to slash ticket prices
The unease caused by Covid-19 is expected to drag down Thai tourism for more than six months, triggering airlines to slash ticket prices to steer the market, while Nok Air and Nokscoot cut pilots and cabin crew to save cost.
Thai Airways International (THAI) is partnering with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to offer discounts such as free domestic tickets to international tourists. Low-cost carriers plan to focus on local tourists opting for domestic travel as there is a limited number of outbound choices free from the virus.
Thai AirAsia is providing 100-baht discounts for any domestic routes within a designated period, while Nok Air is offering one-way ticket prices for domestic routes starting from 680 baht this month. Vietjet Air has marked down all routes across Thailand by 50%.
As the outbreak spreads to more countries, Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) believes the impact will last longer than six months, and the losses will be larger than the TAT's projection of 250 billion baht, said Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, president of TCT.
"Operators are ready to comply with stimulus plans from the authorities to secure at least 36 million international tourists this year. But the government has to think and act faster than this, or most businesses will collapse because of the impact," said Mr Chairat.
The THAI-TAT collaboration -- Amazing Flight, Amazing Thailand -- will be launched in March at ITB Berlin 2020, one of the biggest trade shows in Europe, for travel during May to October, said Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor of marketing communications at TAT.
Under the six-month campaign, THAI will offer 10,000 tickets to Thailand to international tourists with at least a 20% discount, plus a round-trip ticket for a domestic route operated by THAI or THAI Smile Airways.
"We'll start with 10,000 tickets. If the feedback is good TAT will talk with THAI about increasing the number of sale tickets," said Mr Tanes.
This project has a budget of around 30 million baht, shared equally by the two parties. It expects to stimulate tourist spending of around 500 million baht.
NokScoot airline issued a statement that 11 pilots and 36 cabin crew were told to leave the company, while Nok Air axed four pilots. The airlines want to save on operation cost amid a severe economic situation and the virus outbreak. Nok Air has tried many attempts to control costs.