Thai civil aviation authority readies measures for reopening Phuket

In this file picture from Dec 19, 2020, people watch an aircraft preparing to land at Phuket International Airport at a near-empty beach in Phuket, Thailand. - Bloomberg

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN): The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Monday (June 21) approved measures to prepare the aviation industry for the reopening of Thailand to foreign tourists, starting with Phuket on July 1 under the Phuket Tourism Sandbox scheme.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who chaired the CAA meeting, said: “If the scheme turns out to be a success, similar schemes would be implemented in nine tourism provinces while the full reopening of the country will start within 120 days.”

“It is estimated that until the end of the year, the aviation industry will see a total of 1.4 million international passengers, up about 10 times the estimate for July.”

To prepare for the increasing number of visitors, the CAA has ordered airports to arrange flight slots accordingly.

“Phuket Airport has finished arranging flight slots for summer 2021 -- from July 1 to October 30 -- with 134 flights per day being allotted from the total airport capacity of 480 flights per day, or about 28 per cent, ” said Saksayam.

“When the country fully opens, we expect to increase the slot to 320 flights per day to welcome foreign visitors, most of whom would be from the Asia-Pacific region and Europe.”

The CAA estimated that total flights (both domestic and international) in July would increase from June’s estimated 5, 698 to 13, 354, with passengers increasing from 79, 226 to 146, 448.

The meeting also appointed the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) to inspect flight readiness of all airports nationwide in all aspects to prepare for the sharp increase in flights.

The CAAT was also tasked with safety inspection of airports, airlines, aircraft and pilots using both onsite and remote audit methods depending on the outbreak situation in each area.

“As for measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as of June 13 the ministry has provided first jabs of Covid-19 vaccine to frontline staff nationwide, around 48, 000 people, ” said Saksayam.

“Furthermore, we have ordered flight operators to strictly follow the Guidance for Air Travel through the Covid-19 Public Health Crisis provided by International Civil Aviation Organization and guidelines from the World Health Organization.”

The CAA meeting on Monday also considered the adoption of two technologies of international airport to domestic airports to increase their efficiency and enhance security of domestic air travel.

They are the API (Advance Passenger Information) system and the Common Use Passenger Processing System, or CUPPS, which are currently used in international airports in Thailand. - The Nation/Asia News Network

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