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Thai Airways: Suspending Australian flights and others until 1 July 2020

Thai Airways: Suspending Australian flights and others until 1 July 2020

Thai Airways used to be my favourite airline for its lay flatbeds, and exceptional business class service. But then, other airlines introduced totally flat business class seats, and Thai pulled back on its service levels. In a world of new carbon fibre jets, like the A380 and the B787 Dreamliner, Thai was still flying an old 747 to Sydney, reputedly because an influential member of an important Thai family liked to have the option of flying to Sydney in First class, and the 747, was the only plane still providing that Royal First service.

I have only flown Thai Royal First class between Bangkok and Sydney once. I was the only passenger in the First Class cabin, with at least two devoted staff at my beck and call. They kept chiding me for not sleeping long enough!

COVID-19 Free certificate required

Thailand is now requiring that arriving passengers who are not Thai citizens, present a certificate that certifies you have been tested and are free of the COVID-19 virus. Good luck with that, given that you can’t get a test in Australia without meeting strict conditions. Effectively this is the Thai government banning all ‘farang’ (foreigners). So, no surprise that they are slashing flights to a huge number of destinations.

Flight suspensions

As of the dates outlined below, Thai is suspending until July 1, 2020, all flights to Australia and New Zealand. That includes flights to Auckland, Brisbane, Perth ,Melbourne and Sydney.

  • Auckland from March 29 (x3 flights/week) B787-9
  • Brisbane from March 30 (x3 flights/week) B777-200ER
  • Melbourne from March 31 (x3 flights/week) A350
  • Perth from March 30 (x3 flights/week) A330
  • Sydney from March 27 (x5 flights/week) B747-400

As of 25 March 2020, Thai has suspended flights to the following destinations:

  • Beijing
  • Chengdu
  • Colombo
  • Denpasar
  • Dhaka
  • Guangzhou
  • Hanoi
  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Hong Kong
  • Islamabad
  • Jakarta
  • Karachi
  • Kathmandu
  • Kunming
  • Lahore
  • Nagoya
  • Osaka
  • Phnom Penh
  • Seoul
  • Shanghai
  • Singapore
  • Taipei
  • Tokyo
  • Vientiane
  • Xiamen
  • Yangon

The following domestic flights have been turned over to Thai Smile:

  • Chiang Mai
  • Krabi
  • Phuket

European flights cancelled

As of 1 April 2020, Thai is suspending all its flights to Europe:

  • Brussels
  • Copenhagen
  • Frankfurt
  • London
  • Moscow
  • Oslo
  • Paris
  • Stockholm

Thai Airways has already suspended flights to Sendai, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Busan, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Rome, Milan, Vienna, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Muscat, and Dubai.

Credits and refunds

As with most airlines, you can change your ticket for a credit voucher, with no change fees. Credits are valid for a year. This applies to fares booked for travel between:
–   Asian Routes: 25 March – 31 May 2020
–   European, Australian and New Zealand Routes: 1 April – 31 May 2020

Changes Online

Most changes you can make online at the Thai Airways website. Given how every airlines phone support systems are at breaking point, probably best to do it online.

Award Ticket re-credit

Royal Orchid Plus (ROP) members with award tickets for travel between 25 March to 31 May 2020 can fully re-credit the mileage or change the travel dates without any fee or charge. The expiration of miles has been extended until 30 September 2020.

Lounge Closures

Thai has temporarily closed most of its lounges both in Bangkok and elsewhere. Check this update for a complete list. Let’s hope they use this as an opportunity to do a bit of an upgrade on some of these ageing facilities

Royal Orchid Plus status extensions

Most airlines are either extending the dates or reducing the qualifying number of miles/points you need to maintain your Frequent Flyer status. Thai has opted to change the number of points, by halving the Qualifying Miles needed to retain your current status.

If you are a Royal Orchid Plus members with Gold status, and your status expires between February 1 and August 21, 2020, you need only collect 25,000 Qualifying Miles in the last 12 months or 40,000 in the last 24 months and you will get a renewal for another year.

If you are a Royal Orchid Plus Platinum member and your status expires between February 1 and August 21 2020, you need only 40,000 Qualifying Miles over the last two years.

2PAXfly Takeout

Thai was a once-proud airline, with enviable service levels, and very competitive pricing, particularly in Business Class. It lost that standing a while ago and has since gained one for the inconsistency of scheduled aircraft, fleet makeup, service levels, and route scheduling.

It has also gained a reputation for losing money and inconsistent management with its chairmen quitting in November last year, and its president ‘standing down’ earlier in March 2020. In October last year, the then chairman said that the airline was “in a crisis and faces possible closure”. That statement may well have quickened his departure!

‘Thai Airways has been known for years of (sic) not decades to run giant deficits, having an ageing fleet and being used for personal enrichment plus a private taxi for all sorts of dignitaries in the country.’

Skebastian Powell, LoyaltyLobby.com

The airline lost US$383 million last year, which is its third consecutive year of loss.

If this crisis becomes the impetus to arrest some of these problems, then it will have served a good purpose. In the meantime, it is standing down staff in Australia for 3 months, and desperately looking at survival plans, which almost certainly will include a government (its major shareholder) rescue plan. Alternatively, it could be the first Asian airline to fail in this crisis.


 

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