Airlines nervous over Songkran

Airlines nervous over Songkran

Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation, the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA).
Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation, the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA).

Airlines are urging the government to shut down domestic travel during the Songkran holiday period to prevent a third wave of Covid-19.

Carriers have called for strict travel restrictions, or else Thailand's tourism industry will risk losing more over the long run.

Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation which is the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA), said virus transmission must be minimised during the long holiday next week, as the period will see many people returning to their hometowns and going on holiday.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Thursday announced there will be no lockdown during the traditional New Year celebrations as millions of people have already planned their trips.

However, each province still has the authority to impose its own travel restrictions, such as mandatory quarantine for inter-provincial travellers, if there are risks of virus exposure.

Mr Tassapon said the spike of cases at this time is worrisome as it challenged the government on how to contain the virus when people still continued with their trips.

Most TAA passengers are sticking with their plans. The average load factor next week will hit 80-85%, while the airline recently called almost all furloughed staff back to their posts.

"There won't be a third wave if the government can stop it earlier. It should consider imposing strict travel restrictions. Even though the tourism industry may lose lucrative income, we have to accept it if that would benefit the whole country," said Mr Tassapon.

"That would be better than facing another nationwide lockdown afterwards." 

Mr Tassapon added that travel restrictions are necessary for the country as long as the vaccination programme rollout remains slow.

Vocabulary

  • furlough (verb): to tell workers not to come to work for a period of time, usually because there is not enough money to pay them - พักงาน
  • impose: to introduce something, such as a new law or new system and force people to accept it - นำกฎหมายมาบังคับใช้
  • load factor: the ratio of the number of seats occupied in an aircraft to the number available -
  • lockdown (noun): an official order to control the movement of people or vehicles because of a dangerous situation -
  • lucrative: earning a lot of money - ที่มีกำไรงาม
  • mandatory: ordered by a law or rule - ตามข้อบังคับ
  • minimise: to reduce something harmful or unpleasant to the smallest amount or degree - ลดจำนวนลง
  • shut down (verb): close , stop operations of a factory or business - ปิดแน่น, ปิดโรงงาน, หยุดผลิตชั่วคราว
  • traditional (adj): of a custom, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time - เป็นประเพณี, ตามธรรมเนียม, ตามที่ปฏิบัติกันมา
  • wave: an activity or situation which is happening again or is being repeated after a pause -
  • worrisome: worrying; causing worry or anxiety - ซึ่งน่าวิตก
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