BANGKOK, 27 April 2020: Thailand’s low-cost airlines Nok Air, Thai AirAsia and Lion Air will resume domestic flights 1 May, but travellers may not recognise the new norm in air travel. Thai AirAsia, Nok Air and Lion Air confirmed they would resume services to most destinations in the country but with fewer flights.
Of the three, Nok Air maintained some domestic flights after Thailand declared a state of emergency on 26 March.
Lion Air said it would resume services in May with the exception of services to Phuket that should resume 1 June.
Bangkok Airways will operate some domestic services starting 1 May, but international flights will not start until the end of October.
Thai Smile is due to start domestic services in June and international services on 25 October. Vietjet has yet to clarify when it intends to resume domestic services in Thailand, but it could be soon. It has already ramped up services in Vietnam effective since 23 April when the partial lockdown eased.
Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand issued a series of measures that airlines must comply with when reintroducing flights.
For passengers, it involves strict social distancing at check-in counters and wearing a face mask at all times even during the flight.
Airlines must reduce seating. One media report said the CAAT had given permission for just the small 70-seat ATR 72s with just 49 seats available for sale. However, this was not stated in CAAT’s official communications. Thai AirAsia confirmed it had gained the green light to start services 1 May. The entire fleet is made up of 180-seat A320s. It will sell fare for only alternative seats cutting capacity to around 90 seats.
CAAT did say the airlines could increase fares from the present ceiling of THB3 to 5 per km to THB9.5. Fares are likely to double despite aviation fuel prices dropping dramatically since late March.
Thai AirAsia will serve Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Panom, Roi Et, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Hat Yai, Surat Thani, as well as the cross-region connection of Chiang Mai- Hat Yai.
Passengers must adhere to strict health controls and social distancing protocol in the airport on the shuttle bus and the aircraft. Food and beverage sales or services are banned.
Airline crew must wear protective gear such as masks, gloves and plastic visors or goggles.
Travellers will be screened at the airport and undergo a body temperature scan. If the body temperature is above 37.3 Celsius, or they exhibit symptoms such as sneezing or coughing, they will be denied boarding.
One personal bag such as a laptop bag or a ladies’ handbag or a small bag weighing no more than 5kg will be permitted as carry-on baggage.
The size must not exceed the dimension of 40cm (H) x 30cm (W) X 10 cm(D) and fit under the seat in front of the passenger. For other additional baggage within the allowed 7 kg allowance must be checked at no additional cost.
Thai AirAsia recommended passengers use the self-check-in app or kiosk to reduce personal contact.