Thailand, China, and Laos forge new routes

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Thailand is in talks with China and Laos to revolutionise their airspace, with Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Co Ltd (Aerothai) president Nopasit Chakpitak revealing plans to accommodate a staggering 100,000 more flights.

The proposed parallel routes aim to alleviate congestion in the current flight path, labelled a bottleneck in northwestern Laos by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Once the trio agrees on the new routes, spanning between Thailand and China via Laos, they will seek the ICAO’s approval. Nopasit anticipates the parallel routes to be operational by early 2026, pending adherence to safety standards.

“Discussions are underway to elevate flight capacity from 100,000 to 200,000 annually.”

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The envisioned routes will link northern Thai provinces such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai with key Chinese cities including Kunming, Guiyang, Chengdu, Tianfu, Chongqing, and Xian, fostering Thailand’s ambition to become a regional aviation hub.

With Asia’s airline industry poised for exponential growth, fuelled by burgeoning demand in China and India, Aerothai recognises the imperative to expand airspace capabilities. A resurgence in travel demand from China, nearing 80% of pre-pandemic levels, coupled with India’s emergent prominence, paints a promising trajectory.

Aerothai projects a substantial uptick in flights to Thailand, surpassing 900,000 this year and scaling back to pre-Covid levels of 1 million by 2025, reported The Nation.

Revenue forecasts reflect this optimistic outlook, expected to ascend to 11 to 12 billion baht this year before rebounding to 13 billion baht next year.

In related news, in the wake of the permanent visa-free arrangement between Thailand and China, Thai AirAsia saw a wave of soaring bookings, catapulting towards a threefold increase in flights from Thailand to mainland China. Tansita Akrarittipirom, the director of commercial operations at Thai AirAsia, revealed that the company is witnessing a seismic shift in passenger demographics.

In other news, Pattaya‘s hospitality sector is witnessing a notable influx of Chinese visitors, a development credited to the newly introduced Thai-China free visa policy. This detail was shared by Boonkerd Suksrikan, Vice President of the Eastern Thai Hotels Association.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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