VOLCANO ASH AIR CRISIS
European comeback for Southeast Asian airlines
With European air space reopening progressively, the three major international carriers in Southeast Asia, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines are reinstating their flight programs.
Singapore Airlines started flying today on Paris-Singapore and Singapore-Barcelona, followed on the 21st by four frequencies out of Singapore to Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and Zurich. It will also offer a flight from Singapore to Rome. SIA management that flights’ reinstatement will be done on a daily basis as the situation remains subject to changes by European authorities. SIA is posting flights’ update on its website as soon as information is made available. The airline is also waiving until May 2 cancellation and change fees for confirmed tickets to and from Europe.
With a very big presence in Europe (13 destinations), Thai Airways International is one of the worst affected by the volcano ash crisis. The airline’s management estimates that the disruption cost the carrier US$ 3.1 million with some 6,000 passengers being stranded each day. Thai grasped already the initiative on April 19 by announcing to boost frequencies to Madrid and Rome, by then the two only airports remaining opened to traffic during the crisis. Thai continued also to offer flights to Moscow and Barcelona.
Additional flights will continue to be offered until April 28 with Zurich being added since April 20. The Bangkok-Zurich route will be operated again on a daily basis. The carrier asks Thai nationals travelling to the UK but forced to transit through a Schengen country to contact Thai Airways Sales office in the UK. The office will help issuing a transit visa through Schengen countries on the way to the UK. The Company will also waive all fees for changing flight route or issuance of a new ticket from Europe to Thailand and from Thailand to Europe for Thai Airways ticket holders.
Meanwhile, the crisis forced Malaysia Airlines to cancel 46 flights from April 15 to 20, involving then 14,000 passengers system-wide. The airline plans however to resume its scheduled flights from April 21 with five frequencies to London (two daily flights), Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. MAS confirmed to offer again five daily flights to Europe on April 22. Scheduled flights to Rome are not affected and operate as normal. According to Malaysia Airlines Director of Operations, Captain Azharuddin Osman, “All efforts are being made to get Malaysia Airlines passengers to their final destinations as soon as possible. We are also looking to mount additional flights to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt on Thursday, 22 April”.
“However, passengers are advised to be mindful that the situation remains fluid and our flights will be subject to airspace and airports being open. Before proceeding to the airport, passengers are urged to check the flight status on www.malaysiaairlines.com or via the Call Centre,” he said. Vietnam Airlines did not resume flights to Paris and Frankfurt on April 20 but continues to operate from Ho Chi Minh City to Moscow.