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Thursday airline cuts: Qatar ups service, Thai suspends flights

written by Dylan Nicholson | March 26, 2020

Thai Airways is planning to suspend most of its flights by 1 April. The airline said it had been reluctant to cut its capacity but, with more nearby countries closing their borders, it had been left with no choice.

Thai Airways outlined a new plan going forward in which it will be suspending many of its international routes, starting from 25 March.

Air China and Thai Airways side by side at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)
Air China and Thai Airways side by side at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

In a press release, Thai Airways said, “Due to the ongoing global outbreak of COVID-19, several countries in Europe and Asia have intensely increased preventive measures including screening by local ministries of public health and civil aviation organisations as well as a national lockdown.  Therefore, Thai has prepared its plans and temporarily suspended its operations on the following flights.”

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The plan is to suspend services to the following destinations:

  • Starting on 25 March 2020: Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo (Narita and Haneda), Osaka, Nagoya, Seoul, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Yangon, Singapore, Jakarta, Denpasar, Kunming, Xiamen, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Karachi, Kathmandu, Lahore, Dhaka, Islamabad, and Colombo. For domestic flights to Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Krabi will be transferred and operated by Thai Smile.
  • Starting on 27 March 2020: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth
  • Starting on 1 April 2020: Thai will cancel most of its flights to Europe, which include to London, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Oslo, Moscow and Stockholm

The business will still operate cargo services on some routes and will operate charter flights if there are stranded passengers or if requested by government agencies concerned.

Other overnight developments include:

  • As of 25 March, aviation data analysts Cirium is reporting over 6,600 stored aircraft, with the numbers continuing to grow.
  • As people all over the world try to get home and the UAE banning flights, Qatar Airways is increasing its service to many destinations. Doha airport remains open for transit, and the airline plans to operate additional flights, with several destinations set to get an increased A380 service. It is also adjusting its refund policy to incentivise travellers. Passengers who opt to receive a travel voucher, in lieu of a refund, will receive a 10 per cent bonus on top of their fare cost.
  • Oman Air has suspended all flights until further notice, joining a growing list of other airlines that are desperately avoiding the fallout of the coronavirus. The airline has not indicated when the passenger flights will resume.
  • Struggling carrier Alitalia is in the process of being taken over by its government. However, while the government intervention may well have been a lifeline for the beleaguered airline, the Alitalia that emerges from the other side may well look very different. A report has stated the new Alitalia would fly just 25-30 aircraft and would employ around 3,000 people, a far cry from the 93 aircraft currently in its fleet and almost 12,000 employees working for the company.

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