Airlines to cut Songkran fares

Airlines to cut Songkran fares

15 million expected on public transport

Suvarnabhumi airport is packed with travellers ahead of the busy Songkran holidays in April last year. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Suvarnabhumi airport is packed with travellers ahead of the busy Songkran holidays in April last year. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Six airlines will add 104 flights and give a discount of about 20% on early morning and late night domestic flights during the Songkran holiday as an economy option for travellers, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

CAAT deputy director-general Sarun Benjanirut said on Monday the move is in response to Transport Minister Suriya Juangruangreangkit's recent call for lower airfares during festivals to help ease the problem of expensive tickets for domestic flights.

The CAAT held a meeting on Feb 28 with six airlines -- Thai Airways (THAI), Thai AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, Thai LionAir, NokAir and Thai Vietjet -- to discuss the high price of airfares.

Mr Sarun said these airlines have agreed to operate 104 extra flights, which will provide 17,874 additional seats, on April 11, 12, 15 and 16 to destinations including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Samui, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani and Khon Kaen.

"Many of these flights will operate outside normal flight hours, either in the early morning or late at night, and so the fares will be lowered to attract travellers," he said, adding the discount would be around 20% and be offered as an economy option for Songkran travel.

He said the airlines have already submitted their requests to operate the extra flights to the CAAT, with booking for these extra seats expected to be up and running on Tuesday.

According to the CAAT deputy director-general, travellers are advised to plan their trips and make bookings several weeks in advance to ensure availability and affordable prices. They are also advised to book via the airlines' websites as the prices are regulated and monitored by the CAAT, with a ceiling on prices for each route.

The Transport Ministry predicts about 15.45 million people will travel by public transport from April 11-17 this year, with interprovincial buses likely to remain the favourite mode of transport for those who head off to the provinces.

Mr Suriya said he had instructed relevant agencies to make preparations for the upcoming holiday to ensure safe and convenient travel and step up measures to minimise road accidents.

Tolls on certain expressways will be waived during the period for motorists who use the eastern motorway (Highway 7), Kanchanapisek Road (Highway 9), the Buraphawithee Expressway (Bang Na-Chon Buri) and Kanchanaphiske Expressway (Bang Phli-Suksawat). Three expressways -- Srirat, Udon Ratthaya and Chalerm Maha Nakhon -- will be open to motorists free of charge during April 13-15.

Transport Co is preparing to cope with a huge number of passengers during the upcoming holiday, said Rapipan Wannapintu, vice-president of Transport Co which operates interprovincial bus services.

The firm will arrange about 4,200 trips for April 9-11 and 4,000 trips for April 15-17, and it has asked the Department of Land Transport to allow the bus operators to use 900 extra buses to accommodate travellers.

In another development, the Department of Labour Welfare and Protection is urging the private sector to grant April 12 as an extra day off for their employees after the cabinet recently declared April 12 a special government holiday to ensure a five-day weekend for the Songkran festival.

The department is also warning employers to abide by labour protection laws when requiring their workers to work on their days off. This includes paying proper overtime and complying with rules regarding the number of hours, particularly if driving is involved.

The cabinet also approved a budget of 104 million baht for organising the extended Maha Songkran World Water Festival with the goal of attracting over 200,000 visitors and generating 3.125 billion baht in revenue.

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