Thapanee Kiatphaibool, the TAT governor, stated that no scheduled flights were canceled; rather, the airlines had removed some extra time slots.
“The number of flights operated by Chinese airlines to Thailand remains unchanged. The returning of the extra slots does not affect the number of flights landing in Thailand,” Thapanee added.
When Chinese airlines fly to Thailand, they must follow two procedures.
Firstly, they need to reserve time slots with both the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).
Secondly, they must obtain flying permits from the specific airports they’ll land in and also acquire permits from both CAAC and CAAT.
Thapanee mentioned that time slots for Chinese airlines are allotted according to two seasons, winter and summer. Typically, CAAC and CAAT grant these slots based on historical precedence, requiring airlines to utilize at least 80% of their allocated slots.
During the COVID pandemic, CAAT permitted Chinese airlines to relinquish their time slots. When China reopened earlier this year, CAAC and CAAT allowed these airlines to request slots based on their pre-pandemic performance, around 13 million seats.
Many Chinese airlines reserved slots based on their 2019 full-capacity quotas. However, due to an economic slowdown and fewer Chinese tourists visiting Thailand, airlines returned extra slots, a process requiring action four weeks prior.
Thapanee outlined three reasons for the return of time slots by Chinese airlines:
- Airlines requested full-capacity slots exceeding actual demand.
- The returned slots were less favorable, like those after midnight or during busy airspace periods.
- Some slots didn’t align with departure permits in certain Chinese airports that prohibit flights after midnight.
Thapanee mentioned updates from five TAT offices in China, indicating upcoming flights and new routes between Thailand and China. Airlines like VietJet, China Eastern, Nok Air, 9 Air, Thai Lion Air, and Air Asia are among those planning to operate flights between the two countries.