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Chiang Rai and Hat Yai airports NOT closing – Thai transport minister

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Chiang Rai Airport – mychiangmaitravel.com

Chiang Rai’s International Airport is not slated for closure, according to Thailand’s Transport Minister. The comment came after Airports of Thailand’s president announced on Monday October 28 that AOT was ‘considering’ closing Chiang Rai and Hat Yai airports, throwing media, and the staff at the two airports, into a spin.

The minister has told The Nation that AOT “has no plans to close or downgrade any airport in Thailand, including those in Chiang Rai and Hat Yai.” He says there is no change to the planned expansion of six airports.

The press reports regarding the planned closure of Hat Yai International Airport in Songkhla province and Chiang Rai International Airport were “just misinterpretation,” AOT’s president told The Nation, adding that the real message is that the high-speed train project might lead to fewer travellers for both airports.

“The AOT will draw up a flexible plan to deal with the development.”

Passenger numbers at most airports, except Chiang Rai International Airport, are far above capacity. The Chiang Mai Airport serves 11.32 million travellers annually despite capacity of just 8 million, and Phuket Airport, with capacity of 12.5 million, is struggling now with 17.85 million, and growing. Hat Yai Airport is serving 4.03 million passengers a year, and has just 2.5 million in capacity.

More than 64 million people have passed through Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport so far this year, with a capacity of 45 million, and its secondary Dong Mueang Airport has served over 41 million despite capacity of only 30 million.

Chiang Rai’s airport is doing better with 2.95 million, a bit below its full current capacity of 3 million pax. These six airports have a combined total capacity of 101 million passengers, which is expected to rise to 186 million by 2024, according to the transport minister, who also said that he has requested that AOT collaborate with relevant organisations to improve the immigration process, using electronic e-visas to lessen density at checkpoints, providing convenience for tourists and enhanced efficiency.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

Chiang Rai and Hat Yai airports NOT closing - Thai transport minister | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Hat Yai Airport – Flickr

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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