CAAT wants late-night flights scrapped to curb Covid spread

CAAT wants late-night flights scrapped to curb Covid spread

Suvarnabhumi airport is almost deserted during the current third wave of Covid-19. To help curb the transmission, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has asked for the suspension of all domestic flights between 10pm and 4am. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Suvarnabhumi airport is almost deserted during the current third wave of Covid-19. To help curb the transmission, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has asked for the suspension of all domestic flights between 10pm and 4am. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) is calling for the suspension of all domestic flights between 10pm and 4am, after the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) urged all people in high-risk "red zones" to stay at home from 11pm to 4am to curb the number of new infections.

As the number of new infections continues to increase, residents in 18 provinces labelled as highest-risk areas are being advised to stay at home at night, except in extraordinary cases.

To bring all domestic flights in line with the government directive, the CAAT wants airports and airlines to limit, if not, suspend, flights between 10pm and 4am until further notice, said its director-general Suttipong Kongpool.

While the decision will be up to the airlines, the CAAT has identified 26 flights which might be affected by the travel warning, including eight from Suvarnabhumi airport, 11 from Don Mueang, four from Phuket, two from Hat Yai and one from Chiang Mai, said Mr Suttipong.

Passengers who have booked seats on those flights will need to be informed of any changes to their schedule and they must be properly compensated if the flights are rescheduled or cancelled, the CAAT director-general said.

Airlines and airports are also required to remind individuals considered at risk of spreading Covid-19 against travelling, he said, adding that any such risk passengers who insist on travelling will face legal action as outlined in the Disease Control Act.

The CAAT has also asked for cooperation from airlines to limit their passenger load factor at 70% to help ensure social distancing on board, especially since inflight food and beverage services have yet to be banned.

Mr Suttipong said CAAT believed airlines would assess the Covid-19 transmission risks before each flight and adjust onboard services accordingly.

The director-general of the Department of Land Transport, Chirute Visalachitra, has also asked the operators of inter-provincial bus and minivan services to consider lowering the number of services operating between 11pm and 4am every day until further notice.

He said that was essential if the growing number of new Covid-19 infections was to be brought under control.

The department is also urging passengers against unnecessary travel into the 18 "red zone" provinces and calling on bus operators to consider reducing their services services to and from those provinces as much as possible.

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), meanwhile, insisted on Sunday it would maintain its usual public bus service schedule in Bangkok and surrounding areas.

It pointed out the CCSA had not imposed any curfews or lockdowns which would require it to take such action.

In fact, BMTA director Surachai Iamwachirasakul says more public bus services were added on Sunday and today, to cope with the expected increase in the number of passengers returning from the provinces after the Songkran holiday.

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