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Thailand’s airports gear up for November 1 reopening

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Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is reportedly ready to serve passengers from Monday. AOT

Thailand’s airports gear up for November 1 reopening

Airports of Thailand (AoT) is getting Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and other airports ready for the November 1 reopening of selected tourist provinces under the government’s plan to jumpstart the tourism industry.

Under the plan, visitors travelling by air from 46 low-risk countries will not have to quarantine, but must prove they have received both jabs of an approved Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days before flying. They are also required to provide a negative RT-PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before flying.

“We expect Suvarnabhumi airport to welcome 440 commercial flights on November 1; 230 of which are local flights, 110 international and 110 cargo flights,” AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said on October 29.

“These flights will bring in some 30,000 passengers, which is about 30 per cent of airport’s capacity. Of them, 23,000 will be domestic passengers and 7,000 foreign visitors.”

Nitinai further added that AoT has installed 196 common use self-service (CUSS) and 46 common use bag drop (CUBD) kiosks at Suvarnabhumi Airport, which comply with standards set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“These kiosks will be available at check-in rows B through U of the passenger terminal,” he said.

“They will help speed up the check-in process, while passengers can also check in via the application six to 12 hours before departure [depending on the airline’s criteria]. After passengers finish checking in at CUSS kiosks, they can proceed to load their luggage at the CUBD kiosks immediately.

“Both CUSS and CUBD kiosks are using contactless technology to reduce the chance of virus spreading via contact surfaces,” he added.

“AoT is also planning to open the Satellite 1 [SAT-1] building in April to cope with the rising number of passengers,” Nitinai added. “The 216,000-square-meters SAT-1 building is complete but not opened for public use yet to due to a low number of passengers.

“We believe that once SAT-1 is officially opened, Suvarnabhumi’s capacity will be increased by around 15 million passengers per year, thanks to the APM [automated people mover] system that can transport up to 5,900 passengers per hour.

“AoT prioritises the safety of passengers and staff working at Suvarnabhumi and other five airports under our administration, namely Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang in Chiang Rai, Hat Yai and Phuket,” added Nitinai.

“All airport employees and related workers have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and have also received a booster or third shot to boost their immunity.”

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai International Airport director Wichit Kaewsaithiam on October 29 took the press around the airport to show how it has been prepared for the country’s November 1 reopening.

Upon arrival, passengers will have their temperature and health documents checked before they proceed to immigration, baggage pick up, customs inspection, and then can meet their tour operators to be taken to their hotel.

Wichit said the airport can process up to 100 passengers per hour and it will take up to three hours to clear passengers from one flight.

Departing passengers will be checked for their temperature upon entering the building before they go forward to file for value-added tax (VAT) return, check in, load their baggage, undergo security check, passport check before moving on to the waiting lounge for boarding.

Adjustments have been made in the airport’s departure area, including the addition of more X-ray machines, more passport checking counters and an expanded waiting hall to allow for social distancing.

Wichit said Jeju Air will land in Chiang Mai from Incheon every Friday, with the first flight arriving on November 5 at 10:30pm and taking off again at 11:30pm.

He said AirAsia’s Kuala Lumpur-Chiang Mai and Asiana’s Incheon-Chiang Mai flights will also start soon.

From November 1, Chiang Mai Airport can expect up to 102 domestic flights daily from different local destinations, including Bangkok, Hua Hin, U-Tapao, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani and Hat Yai.

Wichit said Chiang Mai Airport was ready to welcome visitors and hopes the tourism sector will recover soon under the “new normal”.

THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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