Following the declaration of a State of Emergency in Thailand by the Prime Minister the country is preparing for wider lockdown measures including a possible curfew and Thai Airways is reacting already.
The carrier is currently scrambling their resources and has published a notice that they would wind down the majority of it’s flight operations beginning as soon as today and then gradually until April 1, 2020.
Several if not most embassies have already contacted their citizens in Thailand and warned them that the transportation options out of Thailand will be severely reduced including the possibility that the airport might be closed altogether and people will be stuck.
THAI Prepares to Temporarily Cancel Flights
24 March 2020
Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) announced that due to the ongoing global outbreak of COVID-19, several countries in Europe and Asia has intensely increased preventive measures including screening by local Ministries of Public Health and Civil Aviation Organizations as well as national lockdown. Therefore, THAI has prepared its plans and temporarily suspended its operations on the following flights.
1. Starting on 25 March 2020: Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo (Narita and Haneda), Osaka, Nagoya, Seoul, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Yangon, Singapore, Jakarta, Denpasar, Kunming, Xiamen, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Karachi, Kathmandu, Lahore, Dhaka, Islamabad, and Colombo. For domestic flights to Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Krabi will be transferred and operated by THAI Smile.
2. Starting on 27 March 2020: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth
3. Starting on 1 April 2020: THAI will cancel most of its flights to Europe which are London, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Oslo, Moscow and Stockholm
THAI previously suspended flights to Sendai, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Busan, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Rome, Milan, Vienna, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Muscat, Dubai, and Auckland.
To facilitate customers, THAI allows passengers holding THAI and THAI Smile code-share flights air tickets, issued before 25 March 2020 with the following date of travel, to convert unused tickets to one-year valid travel voucher without fee and surcharges:
– Asian Routes during 25 March – 31 May 2020
– European, Australian and New Zealand Routes during 1 April – 31 May 2020
Royal Orchid Plus (ROP) members holding award tickets issued to travel during 25 March – 31 May 2020 may fully re-credit mileages or change the travel date without any fee or charge with expired miles extended until 30 September 2020.
Passengers may check flight schedules and make changes to itineraries themselves on thaiairways.com website. For ticket adjustments or more information, ROP members can contact THAI Sales Offices or visit thaiairways.com/rop.
THAI still operate cargo service in some routes and will operate charter flight if there are stranded passengers or requested by government agencies concerned. The Company will inform passengers accordingly if there is some flight adjustment.
It’s currently unclear which flights are remaining or even if Thai Airways will eventually decide to shut down their entire flight operations as it deems to be too difficult (and costly) to operate just a few routes. I would be prepared for the latter.
The fact that Thai – usually extremely stingy – already includes a time frame until 31 May 2020 for free cancellations and conversion into travel credits isn’t a good sign.
Passengers should remember that they should insist on a full cash refund should Thai Airways cancel their flights. If the airline refuses a credit card chargeback should be a first way of defense.
In the meanwhile the Thai Embassy in London has published a noticed that there would be temporary relaxation of the transit rules for Thailand to allow passengers to at least go through Bangkok Airport on their way home.
From now until the end of March 31st 2020 the requirements of a health certificate including negative COVID19 test result is no longer required for TRANSIT of less than 24 hours at Thailand’s international airports.
Passengers are not allowed to enter the country (go through immigration) or roam the airport terminal freely, rather be concentrated in specific waiting areas. How this is supposed to work considering the size of BKK airport is a mystery to me.
This week the following airlines are still operating flights ex BKK to Europe: Lufthansa, Eurowings, Swiss, Thai Airways, Air France, KLM, Finnair, Qatar Airways, EVA Air & Norwegian.
All carriers will drastically reduce their services from next week onwards.
Based on what the German Ambassador sent out today by letter and video even the diplomatic missions don’t know any details about what will go in affect tomorrow and in how far even domestic travel will be restricted.
Those foreigners currently staying in Thailand are advised that they might run into difficulties to get home at a later point should air traffic cease entirely unless their government will provide repatriation flights which would of course come at a nominal cost.