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Betong Airport in Yala is almost ready to be southernmost Airport

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Betong Airport in Yala is almost ready to open. (via NNT Facebook)

Thailand’s southernmost province is set to open Thailand’s southernmost airport as the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is nearing completion of safety inspections for Betong International Airport in Yala province. The CAAT is doing safety and security inspections now, which will be followed by a license and certification that will allow commercial flights to operate in and out of the airport.

The opening comes at an odd time as the increasingly devastating third wave of Covid-19 has all but closed domestic air traffic barring a few special exceptions like Sandbox flights, and Yala and the southern provinces were among the first to go into maximum controlled dark red zone semi-lockdowns.

But the project first began in May of 2016 when the Airports of Thailand started the development process and the Department of Civil Aviation purchased almost 1.5 million square metres of land to build on in the 2016-2018 budget, with 1.9 billion baht earmarked for the airport. Construction began in 2017 and Betong Airport was expected to open in April before the Covid-19 delayed all plans.

The inspections are scheduled to be finished by September paving the way for the airports impending opening. The airport will only accommodate small planes with a maximum of 80 seats, as the runway is only 1,800 metres long, down from the original 2,100-metre plans.

876,000 passengers could be accommodated in the airport each year if it proves successful and popular, as the hourly capacity is about 300 passengers at a time. The government agency of the Department of Airports will own and operate the facilities.

So far, the first airline that has expressed interest in flying routes in and out of Betong International Airport is Nok Air who intend to connect hopper flights between Yala in the Deep South and Hat Yai, still in Southern Thailand, as feeder flights to larger planes continuing on to Bangkok. The plan could better connect people in the furthest south regions of Thailand with national and international flights.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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