Thailand’s airports hit new highs as passenger numbers increase

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Thailand’s six international airports, operated by Airports of Thailand (AOT), witnessed a record-breaking influx of passengers in the first five months of 2024. Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit announced a whopping 52.16 million travellers, marking a 20.28% rise compared to the same period last year.

AOT manages six key airports: Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang, Phuket, and Hat Yai, which collectively handle 95% of the nation’s domestic and international flights. Speaking at AOT’s 45th-anniversary celebration at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Suriya highlighted that 32.05 million of these passengers were international arrivals, primarily from Asia, Europe, and the United States. These tourists contribute approximately 2.3 trillion baht annually to Thailand’s tourism sector, which constitutes about 70% of the country’s annual expenditure budget.

Suriya, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister, underscored the collaborative efforts of the AOT and the Ministry of Transport to position Thailand as a global aviation hub. This aligns with the government’s Ignite Thailand initiative, launched in February, aiming to transform the country into a hub for tourism, medical treatment, food, aviation, logistics, electric vehicles, the digital economy, and finance by 2030.

The initiative focuses on infrastructure investment and promotional campaigns to attract both tourists and business travellers, propelling Thailand to the 8th spot among the world’s top tourist destinations.

Ambitiously, the ministry plans to elevate Thai airports into the top 20 global rankings within five years. Currently, Suvarnabhumi Airport is ranked 58th worldwide, while Don Mueang is recognised among the top 10 best low-cost airports.

AOT CEO Kirati Kitmanawat attributed the rise in international arrivals to the swift recovery of the global tourism industry post-pandemic and the visa-free policy for visitors from China, Kazakhstan, India, and Taiwan.

From October 2023 to May this year, AOT recorded an impressive 81.05 million passengers, reaching 83.4% of pre-pandemic levels. Of these, 48.95 million were international travellers, and 32.09 million were domestic passengers. Kirati also noted a significant revenue increase, with AOT earning 33.94 billion baht from September 2023 to March this year, a 71% year-on-year rise, expressing optimism for continued growth in the latter half of the year, reported The Nation.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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