Thailand extends financial relief for affected airlines

Thailand’s second-stage airline relief will include indefinite waivers of parking fees as well as discounted takeoff/landing fees for all airlines operating on Thai soil.

The latest round of assistance, revealed by Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand’s (CAAT) director-general Chula Sukmanop during the Civil Aviation Committee (CAC) meeting on Tuesday, joins an existing 50 per cent discount on both aircraft parking fees and takeoff/landing fees for 11 countries in the region until the end of the year, introduced earlier in March.

Grounded aircraft at Don Mueang International Airport

CAAT has also extended deadlines for airlines to pay the 15-baht (US$0.50) per passenger handling fee from 15 to 90 days with no late payment surcharge.

The Happiness Sharing Trips subsidy for domestic transportation – comprising two billion baht out of the 22.4 billion baht stimulus released last week – is intended to benefit domestic airlines as well; it will cover up to 40 per cent of fares capped at 1,000 baht per tourist.

The pandemic has placed Thai domestic airlines and national aviation organisations in a tight spot, especially as the country is further delaying the resumption of international tourism.

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang international airports now see only 17,000 passengers a day from domestic flights. The plan to let in some international travellers starting July 1 is limited to around 50,000 travellers altogether.

Several agencies, such as the Department of Airport, which oversees 29 airports in the country, and Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, which draws its revenue from air traffic control fees, have requested financial aid or low-interest loans from the government.

Eight domestic airlines have requested soft loans totalling 24 billion baht from the Thai government.

Nok Scoot yesterday announced it will lay off over 50 per cent of its staff, scale down its fleet from five jets to three, and stop operations in Thailand altogether, stating that demand may not return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2022 or 2023. Air Asia X plans to take over many of its routes.

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