BANGKOK, 24 March 2017: Airports of Thailand reported continued growth in both aircraft movements and passenger traffic at six airports under its management January to November 2017.
AOT noted that all of its supervised airports served 120,661,052 passengers, up 9.25% year-on-year.
Overall, aircraft movements also increased by 5.56% to 758,664.
For the 11 calendar-year months, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport handled 55,235,941 passenger movements, followed by Don Mueang with 34,777,785, Phuket 15,206,482 and Chiang Mai Airport 9,221,010.
There were more domestic flights serving Suvarnabhumi airport over the 11 months, up by 12.59% (total: 79,185). This in turn resulted in a 16.31% increase in domestic passengers using the airport.
Suvarnabhumi Airport recorded a slight 1.74 increase in international flights at 240,518.
Suvarnabhumi’s 12,59% increase in domestic flights was the second highest of all the six airports over the 11 months. Chiang Rai had the highest growth rate at 18.65% in domestic flights.
The growth rate for international flights at Chiang Rai was almost off the clock at 96.32% (854 flights) when compared with the 11 months of 2016.
Most of the flights are operated by Chinese airlines established over the last six months. The far north airport is viewed as a potential gateway to Myanmar and Laos.
However, to succeed it needs direct flights from other regional hubs such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, rather than relying on connecting services through Bangkok. It is already served by flights from Hong Kong a major Asian hub.
Trending suggests Don Mueang and Chiang Rai are the two airports that are seeing an above average growth in international flights, while Suvarnabhumi is clawing back more domestic flights that international travellers need to ensure convenient domestic connections.
Dom Mueang saw a slight 1.52% increase in domestic flights, but it had the largest turnover of domestic passenger traffic at 21,768,017 compared with Suvarnabhumi which marshalled slightly more than 10,000 passengers over the 11 months.
Impending flight congestion at Chiang Mai airport will be a concern for AOT as flights increased by 4.55% to reach 65,502 hastening the day when authorities will be forced to cap flight slots.
The on and off-status of plans for a major expansion, or the development of a new airport in Chiang Mai will need to be resolved this year to avoid flight delays and terminal congestion in the future, which is already critical at peak hours.