No end in sight for flights ban

No end in sight for flights ban

Empty seats at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province last month. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Empty seats at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province last month. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The ban on international commercial flights will remain in force while the Covid-19 pandemic situation remains critical in many countries, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) said on Wednesday.

It is an indefinite ban, said CAAT director Chula Sukmanop and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) would monitor the global situation before deciding when the flights could resume.

Mr Chula said the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) had told the government that a large number of foreigners intended coming to Thailand on business, so officials were checking if there were enough state quarantine (ASQ) facilities available.

More private accommodation providers were applying to become ASQ-certified, he said, restating that those arriving would have to pay their quarantine expenses themselves.

They would also be required to notify Thai officials in advance where they would be staying while in the country and complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

A number of foreign people seeking medical treatment in Thailand under a special entry programme are required to stay at a contracted hospital for at least 14 days to ensure they don't bring in and spread the virus, he said, adding: "As of now, no commercial airlines are permitted to operate flights into and out of Thailand and only a number of foreign businesspeople are allowed to enter the country for business purposes."

These people, along with Thai nationals looking to return to the country on repatriation flights, had booked to come to Thailand, said Mr Chula.

The maximum number of incoming passengers is limited to 500 per day in line with Covid-19 precautionary measures.

No ordinary tourists are allowed entry at the moment, while no travel bubble programmes with other countries are agreed just yet, he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Cherdkiat Atthakor, meanwhile, said 102 Thai nationals on a repatriation flight from Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent were due to arrive home this morning, having left Uzbekistan on Wednesday on Uzbekistan Airways Flight HY3609.

All these passengers tested negative for the new coronavirus before they were allowed to board the repatriation flight, he said.

Of those 102 people, 94 are Thai workers who went to work in Uzbekistan under a labour cooperation programme, seven are spa workers and the other one has been living in Uzbekistan.

The employers of all the workers, except for two of the spa employees, have agreed to pay for their repatriation costs.


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