Thursday 26 March 2020

THAILAND:Bangkok Airways Stops All International Flights Over Covid 19

Bangkok Airways has said it is temporarily suspending all international flights from today, 22 March, until further notice as the spread of the corona virus has crippled travel demand worldwide.

The carrier had earlier suspended many services to destinations in Thailand including the holiday island of Koh Samui in light of sharply reduced tourism.

The suspensions are now being expended to destinations across its network serving Cambodia where it has up to five flights a day, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

A full list of the suspended services and the dates on which they apply is published and updated regularly on the Bangkok Airways website.

In a statement released on Saturday, the carrier said that passengers can call its 24-hour call centre at 1771 or 270-6699 or Bangkok Airways ticket offices to receive a full refund.

Passengers who booked their tickets through travel agencies are advised to directly contact their agents for further assistance.

Earlier Vietnam Airlines and several other Vietnam based airlines had followed suit.

By closing borders to all except cargo, Asean countries are slowly but surely going into lock down mode by default. It first started with restrictions on incoming and outgoing passengers as deaths have started happening in several Asean countries while cases are spiking.

Two of Thailand’s airlines are suspending international flights while Thai Lion Air announced it would ground its entire fleet in Bangkok as travel demand to and around Thailand plummets.

Both Thai AirAsia and Bangkok Airways announced they were suspending all international flights at the weekend following service cuts announced last week. But at least for the immediate future, they are still flying domestic services.

Bangkok Airways made the announcement 21 March on its Facebook page rather than through press releases. It described the international flight cuts as a temporary suspension that would start 22 March “until further notice.”

Domestic services continue, but there are some reductions in the number of daily flights, and the airline has cancelled services to Chiang Rai.

Thai Lion Air was the first airline to announce it will suspend all flights both domestic and international from 25 March to 30 April 2020. It will see the airline ground 17 planes and lay off hundreds of cabin attendants.

Blaming the situation on the Covid-19 outbreak the airline says it will resume normal services on all routes from 1 May onwards, but that timeline could change considering the surge of Covid-19 cases in Thailand that soared to 600 on Sunday in just a few days following two weeks of reporting a relatively stable count of 40 to 50 cases.

Thai AirAsia confirmed it was halting all international flights from 22 March to 25 April 2020 to comply with the current Covid-19 epidemic control measures.

The airline says it will offer passengers the opportunity to rebook flights later in the year but not exceeding 180 days from the time of the original booking.

They can also store the fare as a credit that can be used to buy a fare before the end of the year.

However, reaching out to the airline is not so easy. The airline uses a virtual assistant or bot that replaced call centres and help-desk options some months back and customer response is less than favourable.

Complaints are piling up that the bot is overloaded and cannot process requests, leaving passengers with just one alternative. They have to visit the airline’s airport office and file a request for a refund or fee-free change to staff.

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