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Thailand’s aviation sector welcomes Chinese visa waiver

FILE PHOTO: Tasty Thailand

The Thai government’s decision to implement a bilateral visa waiver scheme with China from March 1 has been welcomed by the local aviation industry. Airline representatives say the agreement will allow for new routes to be introduced, as well as an increase in flight frequencies.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is expecting a major recovery this year, forecasting around 8 million travellers from China, which would be a 75% rebound on pre-pandemic numbers, compared to that seen in 2019 and early 2020.

On January 2, PM Srettha Thavisin confirmed that Thailand and China had agreed a reciprocal visa exemption scheme that will come into effect from March. Thailand was already operating a temporary visa waiver scheme for Chinese travellers, which was set to end on February 29. This will now be extended, permanently.

The visa exemption agreement means airlines are already responding with plans for new routes to Chinese destinations and an increase in flight frequency. Thai Airways has published its summer schedule, which will see increased frequencies to several key Chinese cities.

Meanwhile, Thai Vietjet is introducing direct flights to Beijing from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, beginning March 1. The carrier already operates direct flights between Bangkok, Shenzhen and Hangzhou.

Airports of Thailand has announced plans to collaborate with the TAT to encourage airlines to introduce more routes and increase frequency at both main and regional airports. This would be done through incentives such as reduced landing fees, as well as discounts on aircraft service charges and boarding bridge charges.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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