The low-cost carrier, Thai Air Asia, is calling on the government to accelerate the re-opening of the country to international tourism. TAA chief executive Santisuk Klongchaiya says Thailand risks losing its status as a regional hub if the country does not re-open soon in order to re-ignite tourism and airlines.
According to a Bangkok Post report, he warns that Thailand could lose out to places like Vietnam, should international carriers decide to move direct flights to other countries.
“After facing the pandemic for a year, the key factors that can strengthen Thai tourism are re-opening borders and financial aid such as soft loans to help airlines maintain their business and save jobs. If the plan to welcome foreigners is not ready, Thailand may lose those potential tourists to other competitors that have prepared to attract them with a practical scheme.”
TAA is one of 7 local carriers that have been calling for a 14 billion baht soft loan since March last year. In 2020, the airline reported 16.2 billion baht in total revenue, a year-on-year decrease of 61%, with a 57% drop in passenger numbers.
Santisuk says the carrier is planning for similar numbers this year, with 15% of total passengers expected to come from the international market in the last quarter of the year. He is also hopeful that cost-saving initiatives, such as placing some staff on furlough, should help lower operational costs by up to 20%.
In other tourism-related news, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says it will add a further 2 million room nights to the “We Travel Together” domestic tourism stimulus campaign.
TAT is also planning another scheme aimed at tour operators, between now and July. TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says the scheme will be put to cabinet for approval next week. TAT is proposing a “buffet-style” ticket scheme for airlines, aimed at frequent travellers. Passengers receive their subsidy once they use the first flight that is linked to a hotel booking at their destination. Each tour operator can have up to 3,000 customers.