Bangkok Airways eyes investment in proposed Phangnga airport to boost tourism

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

Bangkok Airways has expressed keen interest in an investment in the proposed airport in Phangnga if the government chooses to shift from a public scheme to a collaborative public-private partnership. The fresh investment is seen as a strategic move, as the new airport holds immense potential to become Thailand’s next tourist hotspot.

The Thai government’s contemplation over investment into the construction of a new airport at Phangnga stems from the need to alleviate the overcrowding at Phuket airport. Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, Bangkok Airways’ president, sees this potential project as a lucrative opportunity which could open up a new passage for airlines transporting passengers to southern Thailand.

According to Puttipong, expanding the runway at Phuket airport is not currently feasible, making the construction of a second airport within proximity a viable solution to accommodate additional flights. Moreover, he added, Phangnga is garnering recognition as an up-and-coming destination amongst foreign travellers, a compelling argument for investment into tourism expansion with a new airport.

The feasibility study for the Phangnga airport, which is projected to cost around 80 billion baht, was revived by the Airports of Thailand after the Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, visited the province last month, affirming that the new investment was imperative for bolstering tourism, reported Bangkok Post.

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Puttipong believes that airport investment could lead to substantial revenue generation. Bangkok Airways already owns airports in Samui, Sukhothai, and Trat which bring in about 2 billion baht each year for the company.

With travel demand escalating in the final quarter, the airline has raised its annual revenue target from ticket sales from 15 billion baht to 16 billion baht, aiming for an average load factor of 78%.

He further added that operational costs have soared in the post-pandemic period, leading to an expected rise in the average ticket price for this year by 8% from its previous forecast, from 3,400 baht per flight to 3,643 baht per flight.

As part of its plans, Bangkok Airways aims to resume two flights from its Samui hub to the Chinese hubs of Chongqing and Chengdu in November. Despite this, the airline does not intend to aggressively expand Chinese routes due to low demand. Its current plan is to focus on optimising its existing capacity with a higher load factor by offering reasonable ticket prices.

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