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Japan’s banning of increased chartered flights from Thailand has not only affected Thai tourists but also Japanese tourists planning to visit the country during the Songkran festival.
Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) secretary general Charoen Wangananond said the ban has already affected Thai tourists booking package tours to Japan because they won’t be able to fly on schedules.
The ban also will affect Japanese tourists visiting Thailand.
He expected some 2,000 Japanese tourists will miss their schedules to visit during the Songkran festival as they are tour groups that will travel on chartered flights of Asia Atlantic Airline and Jet Asia Airway.
He said normally the two airlines will fly two round trips or flying Thai tourists to Japan and returning with Japanese tourists to Thailand.
But he said the two airlines have suspended flights from Thailand, fearing that if the return trip falls on April 1, it can not fly out, and that will create chaos among passengers.
He also said stranded Japanese tourists will also include those traveling on THAI’s chartered flights on the Bangkok- Komatsu and Hiroshima banned by Japan’s civil aviation authorities. Each flight has 200-300 seats.
He also commented on THAI’s announcement that it could solve stranded passengers on its Nok Scoot flights through seeking cooperation from its ally to arrange for flights to Japan for tourists in Thailand during March 29-31 following Japan’s ban of chartered flights from Thailand.
He said about 20,000 seats on chartered flights have been sold out during the period, but only 10% of seats could be rearranged to other airlines.
According to ATTA, 450,000 Thais visited Japan in 2013, and rose to 600,000 in 2014.
For the long holiday periods from March to May, ATTA said 500,000 Thais have booked tours to Japan.
Japan’s ban of chartered flights from Thailand has now sparked fear that it might also affect Thai passengers in Inchon airport in South Korea.
Latest report said some 500 Thai tourists were stranded at Inchon airport travelling on Asia Atlantic Airline, and Jet Asia Airway on Saturday night.
However tour companies have rearranged them to Korean Airline and Jetasia to fly them out already. They arrived in Bangkok Sunday afternoon.
Commenting on the incident, Mr Voradej Harnprasert, deputy permanent secretary for transport said South Korea has not officially notified that it will ban chartered flights from Thailand same as Japan.
He said all flights remain as usual.
But for Japan, he said the team from the Civil Aviation Department is negotiating with Japan to solve the problem.
Transport permanent secretary Soithip Traisuthi said now the ministry has sent operation plans to all relevant agencies to consider after the Civil Aviation Department has improved safety measures to meet the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
She said a meeting will be held with all agencies on April 1 to discuss the progress.