Air assistance

State offers aid to airlines

Mr Fernandes, center left, made suggestions to Mr Anutin, center right, at Government House.

The government has pledged to extend assistance to air operators affected by the appearance of the Omicron variant.

Speaking after meeting Tony Fernandes, chief executive of Capital A, the parent company of AirAsia, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Mr Fernandes had called for a reduction in airport fees, landing and parking, as well as a relaxation of Covid-19 entry rules for arrivals under the Test & Go scheme.

Mr. Fernandes said that existing rules for foreign tourists requiring RT-PCR tests on the first and fifth days of their stay add costs for travelers and place a greater burden on hoteliers, according to Mr. Anutin.

“As these issues are my responsibility, I plan to consult with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob,” he said.

On February 1, the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration began easing Covid-19 restrictions for visitors arriving under the Test & Go program by lifting the mandatory quarantine period and moving testing. To enter Thailand under this program, tourists must book a hotel room for their fifth-day test before their trip.

Mr Anutin said Mr Fernandes had also suggested that airlines could help the government screen tourist arrivals, thereby reducing costs for travellers.

“His proposals were interesting. The Department of Disease Control will consider this proposal later to make it more effective. However, the government must balance safety and economic benefits because we cannot compromise on safety” , did he declare.

Anutin said many tourists from Malaysia, Singapore and other countries wanted to visit Thailand, but complicated requirements made them hesitant.

As part of efforts to help airlines affected by the Omicron variant, the Civil Aviation Board last month cleared the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), Department of Airports (DOP) and Airports of Thailand (AoT) to extend relief measures for another three months. The previous measures were due to expire at the end of 2021.

The measures allowed the AoT to reduce landing and parking fees by 50% for domestic and international flights, in addition to granting a waiver of parking fees until March 31 for airlines stuck in the ground. The measures apply to 29 airports overseen by the DOP.

The AoT has been instructed to freeze the collection of landing and parking fees and aircraft service fees due between April last year and January for nine months each. The board also asked CAAT to help airlines by extending credit terms.