State offers assistance to airlines

State offers assistance to airlines

Mr Fernandes, centre left, provided suggestions to Mr Anutin, centre right, at Government House.
Mr Fernandes, centre left, provided suggestions to Mr Anutin, centre right, at Government House.

The government has pledged to extend assistance to airline operators affected by the outbreak of the Omicron variant.

Speaking after meeting with Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia parent Capital A, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Mr Fernandes called for lower airport, landing and parking charges, as well as easing of Covid-19 entry rules for arrivals under the Test & Go scheme.

Mr Fernandes said existing rules for foreign tourists requiring RT-PCR tests on the first and fifth days of their stay add costs for travellers and result in a higher burden for hoteliers, according to Mr Anutin.

"As such issues are my responsibility, I plan to consult with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob," he said.

On Feb 1, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration began relaxing Covid-19 restrictions for visitors arriving under the Test & Go scheme by lifting the mandatory quarantine period and shifting the tests. To enter Thailand under this scheme, tourists must book a hotel room for their fifth-day test ahead of their travel.

Mr Anutin said Mr Fernandes also suggested airlines could help the government to screen tourist arrivals, reducing costs for travellers.

"His proposals were interesting. The Department of Disease Control will consider this proposal later to make it more efficient. However, the government needs to ensure a balance between safety and economic benefits because we cannot compromise on safety," he said.

Mr Anutin said many tourists from Malaysia, Singapore and other countries want to visit Thailand, but complicated requirements have them hesitant.

As part of efforts to help airline operators affected by the Omicron variant, the Civil Aviation Board last month allowed the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), the Department of Airports (DOP) and Airports of Thailand (AoT) to extend relief measures for another three months. The previous measures were due to expire at the end of 2021.

The measures saw the AoT reduce landing and parking charges for domestic and international flights by 50%, in addition to granting a waiver for parking charges until March 31 for airlines that are grounded. The measures apply to 29 airports overseen by the DOP.

The AoT was instructed to freeze the collection of landing and parking charges and aircraft service charges due between April last year and January for nine months each. The board also instructed the CAAT to help airlines by extending credit terms.

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