BANGKOK, 30 August Hat Yai Airport celebrated 29 years of service 26 August outlining a raft of improvements due to be completed during it upcoming 30th anniversary year.
The main challenge is to deal with terminal congestion as the airport will next year exceed its 2.5 million passenger ceiling by more than 1 million.
Hat Yai airport transferred to Airports of Thailand from the Department of Commercial Aviation in 1988.
Seven airlines operate daily schedule services and during the 10 months of the fiscal year 2017 (October 2016 – July 2017) the airport handled 25,517 flights, an average increase of 15.59% over the fiscal year 2016. .
Last year, the airport handled 3,640,753 passengers, an increase of 13.30%.
AoT said the government’s tourism policy and a more stable political environment had boosted traffic to the southern gateway airport.
The long-term strategy is to position Hat Yai as the southernmost gateway to Thailand with flights linking to other destinations in Thailand and providing a gateway for overland access to five southern border provinces; Songkhla, Satun, Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani.
Malaysian and Singaporeans can now fly daily services to Hat Yai that connect with flights to northern destinations such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
With a capacity of 2.5 million passengers per year, fiscal year 2017 will close with around 3.9 million passengers, considerably more than what terminal and other facilities can handle.
By 2019 the airport is expected to handle 4.5 million passengers with 31,087 flights. By 2024 passengers will exceed 5.90 million on an estimated 41,308 flights.
Terminal facilities are being improve. Recently lifts for the disabled were introduced. Since last year the airport has been working on the construction of a new office building, expansion of the passenger hall and car parking. More airline check-in counters will be added giving the terminal 35 counters.
Aircraft parking will increase from seven to nine spaces. Security lighting around the airport and the installation of an intruder protection signal system will be completed by 2019.
Post 2020 work will begin to increase flight capacity from 12 per hour to 24 per hour.
There is a long-term plan to build a new passenger terminal that will be able to accommodate 6 million passengers a year. The terminal will have a design that allows it to expand further to handle a maximum of 10 million passengers.
Construction of a parking garage with a capacity of 2,800 cars and a warehouse building for cargo with an area of 1,800 square metres are in the 2026 plan. It will increase airline parking slots to 25.