The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which kicks off next month, has impacted peak season seating capacity to Thailand as airlines shift to routes serving football fans.
According to the Thai Civil Aviation Bureau, the CAAT, the number of scheduled flights to Thailand in the months of October-March increased by 74.1% from this year’s summer schedule but remained 67.6% lower than in the same period. for the World Cup.
Mr Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, the deputy. Governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and America at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said major Middle East airlines must expand their fleets to meet the demand for the World Cup.
Qatar, the host country, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an air hub in the region, will see busier air traffic and both must prepare additional flights to ensure adequate supply for the event, Siripakorn said. He said Qatar Airways did not offer additional flights to Thailand during the peak season and that the same could happen with Emirates, an official partner of the tournament.
According to the CAAT, the number of flights from Qatar to Thailand has been reduced from 984 in the summer schedule to 727 in the October-March period, while the number of flights from the United Arab Emirates has fallen slightly from 1,209 in the summer to 1,113 in the October-March period. March.
Airfares for direct flights from the Middle East to Thailand rose from an average of 15,000-20,000 baht before the pandemic to 25,000-30,000 baht. “The long-haul markets from Europe will be affected,” Siripakorn said.
The TAT must work closely with airlines that have not yet resumed flights to Bangkok, such as B. British Airways, which previously announced it would suspend the route to Bangkok until next year.
“Direct flights are the key to tourism recovery. Those who have purchasing power still want to travel,” he said. “But under the current circumstances, it is more difficult for them to find vacancies that suit them.”
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