Increase in flights to Phuket Intl Airport: AOT

PHUKET CITY: The effect of the political turmoil on passenger traffic at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport has thus far been limited, with increased traffic at Phuket International Airport making up for some of the shortfall, Airports of Thailand (AoT) has announced.

Suvarnabhumi Airport Director Niran Theeranatsin said that before the protests 16 international and domestic carriers had requested an additional 558 flights from April 9 to 18, an average of 56 per day, to cope with increased holiday season demand.

The carrier with the biggest increase was China Eastern Airlines, with requests for 186 additional flights, followed by Bangkok Airways (89) and China Southern Airlines (82).

However, the political situation has resulted in airlines canceling 88 of these flights by April 11, including many from China.

International passenger traffic at the airport on Sunday, the day after protests in the capital turned deadly, was down 10.1% compared to April 11 last year, he said.

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For the first eleven days of April 2010, international passenger volume dropped 3.8% year-on-year, while domestic passenger volume decreased 19.4%.

However, both the numbers of flights and passengers to Phuket have ‘increased dramatically‘ for the period, indicating that many tourists were opting to avoid Bangkok and fly directly to other parts of Thailand, he said.

Exact figures were not reported.

Somchai Thean-Anant, director of national air traffic controller Aerothai, said that for the first half of fiscal 2010 there was a 12.2% year-on-year increase in the number of flights in Thailand.

He attributed this to signs of recovery in the global economy, government efforts to promote tourism, and increased availability of flights.

— Krungthep Turakij

Phuket News

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