Thailand enhances air navigation services, surge in China flights

Image: Alireza Akhlaghi/Unsplash

Transport Deputy Minister Surapong Piyachote announced Thailand’s pledge to streamline the efficiency of its air navigation services and related aviation solutions in routing, and emergency scenarios. This commitment aligns with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s national development policies, which prioritise improving aviation as a key agenda for progress.

This announcement comes in response to a report showing a significant surge in international flights from China, reflecting a 100% growth. From October 2023 to May 2024, flights between Thailand and China accounted for 20% of the total international flight volume, with 55,433 flights marking a 213% increase from the same period last year. Projections for 2024 suggest that this number will rise to 86,150 flights, a 126% increase over the previous year.

Currently, Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Samui, and Krabi International Airports handle flights from China, with cargo and passenger services available at most locations except Don Mueang and Samui. Many airlines have resumed services on the Thailand-China route, with plans to add more flights to key economic destinations such as Chengdu.

In the past eight months, Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Samui airports recorded 5,896 round-trip flights to Chengdu. This number is expected to rise to 8,850 in 2024, representing a 265% year-on-year increase.

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Surapong highlighted that Thailand’s aviation sector stands to benefit from enhanced collaboration with China, aimed at improving efficiency and capacity. The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai) has been tasked with expanding capacity to accommodate the growing number of flights.

A new flight route termed the ‘Parallel Route’ is being developed along with air navigation infrastructure to enhance air traffic service efficiency.

Technology upgrades

Aerothai is also upgrading its technology systems, airspace structure, and management protocols to handle the increased flight volume and ensure convenient, fast, and safe services for tourists.

Surapong stressed the importance of preparing a new air traffic management system and establishing the necessary infrastructure to support future growth. By 2038, Thailand anticipates handling an estimated 2 million flights, necessitating advanced planning and airspace design.

Aerothai President Nopasit Chakpitak outlined measures to bolster air traffic services, including the readiness of the Air Traffic Flow Management system to support increased traffic and ensure safety. The agency has set guidelines for air traffic service operations to enhance capacity, particularly as part of the Suvarnabhumi Airport Development and Expansion Project Phase 2. The airport’s third runway is slated to become operational in September 2024.

Efforts are underway to optimise runway usage by balancing the distance between incoming and outgoing aircraft, aiming to match the standards of leading global airports. Technologies such as the Arrival Manager system and the Intelligent Departure system are being implemented to improve air traffic agility and maintain punctual flight schedules, thereby maximising the number of accommodated flights.

To further establish Thailand as an aviation hub, Aerothai is developing U-Tapao Airport and Eastern Aviation City. Currently, in its initial phase, this project focuses on enhancing air cargo transportation from the Eastern Economic Region, particularly flights from China, and aims to transform U-Tapao Airport into a leading aircraft maintenance centre.

Apart from the air navigation services, Aerothai is also adopting the Aerotropolis concept from Chengdu International Airport, leveraging advanced technology and effective airport management to elevate its services.

Extensive research and data analytics are being employed to improve all aspects of Aerothai’s operations, ensuring it meets international standards and supports Thailand’s ambitions in the aviation sector, reported The Nation.

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Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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