Thai Airways Clears Backlog Of Stranded Passengers At Bangkok Airport Due To Pakistan Airspace Closure

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Thai Airways has published a press release today claiming that they were able to clear most of the backlog of passengers which accumulated during the last week at Bangkok Airport after Pakistan limited it’s airspace following a military altercation with India.

Pakistani Airspace was first closed entirely due to military restrictions and later re-opened, however with severe limitations to traffic.

Many airlines also self imposed a no fly zone in order to operate under safe standards, learning their lesson from the past when airliners who overflew crisis regions were shot down.

According to news reports and social media postings there were thousands of passengers “stranded” in Bangkok as the airline cancelled several flights to Europe and the Middle East, including their flight to Muscat, which has a scheduled stop in Karachi.

Thai has upgraded aircraft on some affected routes allowing it to carry a greater number of passengers.

Their news release can be found here.

03 March 2019

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) transported all stranded passengers to Europe completely today.

Mr. Sumeth Damrongchaitham, THAI President, said that today THAI completed transporting stranded passengers who affected from a sudden closure of Pakistani airspace on the last few days by upsizing aircraft to a larger capacity one, details as follows:

– Flights TG916 and TG917 on the Bangkok-London route, aircraft was upsized from Boeing 777-300ER to Airbus A380-800, which carried 1,014 passengers.
– Flights TG952 and TG953 on the Bangkok-Copenhagen route, aircraft was upsized from Boeing 777-200ER to Boeing 777-300ER, which carried 696 passengers.
– Flights TG936 and TG937 on the Bangkok-Vienna route, aircraft was upsized from Boeing 787-8 to Boeing 787-9, which carried 596 passengers.

THAI operates flights to three destinations in Pakistan which are Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Even though Pakistani airspace is opened but with some restrictions in some points that THAI is not allowed to fly to.

Therefore, THAI needs to cancel its flights to those three destinations in Pakistan. Furthermore, THAI adjusted its route for flight TG507 from Bangkok direct to Muscat, not making a stopover in Karachi but for return flight TG508, operated as normal route (Muscat-Karachi-Bangkok) that making a stopover in Karachi.

THAI is monitoring the situation closely in order to properly assess the situation. Passengers are advised to check the Company’s announcements and keep abreast of all related news. For information on flight schedules, passengers may check thaiairways.com or call the THAI Contact Center at Tel. + 66 (0)2-356-1111, 24-hours a day.

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THAI Arranges Additional Special Flights  to Accommodate Stranded Passengers
02 March 2019

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) arranged additional special flights to and from Frankfurt today and operated flights to London with larger aircraft on 3 March, 2019, in order to transport more stranded passengers speedily.

Mr. Sumeth Damrongchaitham, THAI President, said that passengers were stranded at Suvarnabhumi Airport after a sudden closure of Pakistani airspace on 27 February 2019. THAI proceeds to transport those passengers to their destinations, details as follows:

1. Arrange one additional special round-trip flight on 2 March 2019 that can accommodate 696 passengers:
– Flight TG9269 on the Bangkok-Frankfurt route, operated with Boeing 777-300ER that departed from Bangkok at 12.00 hours and is expected to arrive in Frankfurt at 18.30 hours (local time)
– The return flight TG9279 on the Frankfurt-Bangkok route is scheduled to depart from Frankfurt at 20.30 hours (local time) and to arrive in Bangkok at 15.15 hours (the following day).
2. Upsize aircraft from Boeing 777 to a larger capacity one, Airbus A380, for roundtrip flights TG916 and TG917 on the route Bangkok-London on 3 March 2019, which will carry 1,014 passengers.

By operating special flights on 1 and 2 March and upsizing aircraft on 3 March, THAI will be able to transport more stranded passengers to their destinations in Europe. Currently, approximately 200 stranded passengers remain.

The cancellations cause quite a scene at Bangkok Airport last week, even though when I departed to Korea on Thursday night things seemed to be rather normal. Maybe Thai Airways actually did a good job in accommodating affected passengers in hotels or rebooked them to later flights already?

Thai is in the fortunate position that they have A LOT of planes that they can swap and create extra capacity on certain routes where necessary. In this case it’s very fortunate, however some passengers going on other destinations, who possibly expected an A380, were likely disappointed when a 747 or 777 showed up at the gate. It’s part of the infamous Thai Airways Aircraft Roulette.

There were plenty of messages on Twitter and Facebook from passengers who claimed they have nowhere to sleep and are in distress. I was quite baffled by this to be honest, as Bangkok has plenty of hotel rooms and isn’t exactly a high price destination. Do people really travel internationally without any emergency reserves, so that they are unable to be take care of themselves for a couple days?

A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about Travel Insurance and this is one such circumstance where it would be really useful to be covered.

Conclusion

When I compared cancellations of the airlines last week is seemed to me that the amount of flights cancelled by TG was much higher than those of other carriers, with significant operations between South East Asia and Europe / Middle East.

In such a case, which can be considered force majeure, customers have no valid claim of compensation against the airline for damages resulting the delay itself, however the carriers (especially European ones) have the Duty to Care which means passengers have to be provided with an adequate rebooking to any available flight as well as accommodation. Not all carriers follow this, it’s important to insist on a proper rebooking and all carriers are up for grabs here – as long as there are seats.

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