BANGKOK — International flights are likely to resume as late as September, a top civilian aviation regulator said Wednesday.
Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand director Chula Sukmanop said none of the airlines he met had expressed interest in resuming their international flights by next month, when the order shutting down the country’s airspace is set to expire. He attributed the reluctance to uncertainty over the government’s policies on international travels.
“I believe international flights will resume this September,” Chula said. “All of the airlines could not assess the demand for air traveling. They have to wait and see the situation by the end of this month.”
Thailand’s airspace has been closed to international flights since April due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only essential journeys such as repatriation and diplomatic flights were allowed to fly into the country, though most domestic flights have resumed after weeks of waning infections in the country.
The government has to make a final decision before the country’s airspace could be open, Chula said. But it does not mean an all-out opening for air travelers, since only business people would be allowed to take the flights under the so-called travel bubble proposals, he added.
The aviation agency also announced a set of new safety measures during a meeting with airlines and airport operators on Tuesday.
Under the new regulations, air carriers are no longer required to leave empty seats between passengers, but passengers are still needed to wear face masks throughout the journey.
Food and beverages may only be served on flights exceeding two hours and they must be prepared in a sealed container. Airlines are also required to prepare a space in the cabin to separate sick passengers from others, Chula said.
Domestic flights were previously allowed to charge up almost twice the original fare since they had to leave many seats empty to ensure social distancing. The civil aviation chief expected the fares to be lower, thanks to the recent measures easing restrictions on traveling.