A Thai Airways plane comes into land on the Thai island of Phuket in pre-Covid times.
Thai Airways is to resume flights between Hong Kong and Phuket next month, following 'Phuket Sandbox' plans to reopen the Thai island as a quarantine-free holiday destination.
The airline is planning to restart flying on July 2 as Thailand seeks to begin its reopening process. Flights from Europe to the holiday island are also scheduled by Thai Airways, with services from Zurich, Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and London also set to take-off on July 2.
However, the sticking point for would-be holidaymakers is the strict quarantine measures still in place in both Thailand and Hong Kong, as well as Europe. Phuket has been aiming to reopen for some time as a quarantine-free destination for fully vaccinated travellers as part of its ‘Phuket Sandbox’ proposal. The island is hopes to vaccinate at least 70% of its residents by July 1 in time to open up to certain low-risk countries.
But Hong Kong’s rigorous quarantine shows no signs of loosening up. Thailand has recently been moved from Group C to the higher risk Group B due to a surge in infections in the Southeast Asian destination, which means unvaccinated travellers from Thailand must quarantine in Hong Kong government-designated hotels for 21 days and vaccinated arrivals for 14 days.
Europe is also still bogged down with travel restrictions. Thailand is currently listed as an ‘amber country’ in the UK which means holidaymakers from Britain would have to isolate for ten days on their return.
Hong Kong’s travel industry has warned that travel will resume with Phuket only when quarantine is eased.
“It will be feasible if there is a quarantine-free arrangement between the two governments, similar to the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong,” a spokesperson for the Society of IATA Passenger Agents, a coalition of Hong Kong’s largest travel agents, told the Bangkok Post.
The Singapore and Hong Kong air travel bubble has yet to take-off and was cancelled for a second time last month following a new wave of Covid infections in Singapore.
The Phuket Sandbox arrangements have not yet been finalised, with some officials arguing for ‘area quarantines’ for an initial period rather than full freedom of the island. Travellers will also be expected to remain in Phuket for 14 days after arrival.
Qatar Airways has additionally announced four weekly flights from Doha to Phuket starting on July 1.
Keep up to date with all the latest travel news in Asia Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Middle East by subscribing to the FREE weekly AFT Newsletter.