The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and the Airports of Thailand (AoT) are being told to prepare for a surge of up to 19 million air passengers in the last quarter of this year, Thailand's high tourist season.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, in his capacity as chairman of the Civil Aviation Commission (CAC), said the two agencies have been instructed to prepare for a surge currently being experienced in the United States and Europe after the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Peak season is in the fourth quarter when the number of international visitors will rise to up to 19 million, according to a projection by the Bank of Thailand, he said.
According to the CAAT and the AoT, Thailand welcomed about 1.08 million international visitors from Jan 1 to May 20, and the number of new visitors was expected to rise to 6 million in the second quarter, he said.
The number of tourists was projected to slowly grow in the third quarter, a low tourist season, before picking up again and rapidly rising in the fourth quarter, he said, citing forecasts by the two agencies.
Thailand should learn from what is happening in the US and Europe to better prepare for a similar situation, he said.
Massive flight delays and close to 100,000 flight cancellations have occurred in Europe since April, while at least 20,000 cancellations happened in the US in the past two to three months, he said.
This chaotic situation stemmed from shortages of aviation and airport workers due to layoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic, he said. The number of passengers rapidly rose while the number of workers remained low, he added.
The shortages were coupled with worker strikes reportedly occurring at several airports, he said.
To help airlines cope better with the current high costs of operation, the CAC has agreed to extend financial measures for airlines operating flights to and from Thailand for another quarter, he said.
Measures include a 50% landing and parking discount for both domestic and international flights and a waiver for airlines suspending their operations, he said.
The CAC has also agreed to extend credit terms for the payment of the regulatory fee charged to inbound and outbound flights from 15 days to 90 days and hold the fine for delayed payments, he said.