The Department of Airports has launched a 10-year plan to increase the capacity of its airports, following anticipation of tourism growth as well as the lifting of restrictions imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The tourism industry in 2017 is estimated to have attracted no less than 35 million foreign tourists, bringing in approximately 2.76 trillion THB. Meanwhile, the ICAO has lifted its red flag on Thailand’s civil aviation industry. Various airlines, especially low-cost airlines, have expressed a desire to begin regional services under the supervision of the Department of Airports. As a result, the department is moving forward with a 10-year plan to invest 38 billion THB to increase the annual capacity of 28 airports to 30 million passengers in 2025 and 58 million by 2035. The Department’s goals include expanding air access, accommodating increased traffic, adhering to international standards and effective governance in order to make Thailand an aviation hub for the region.
The Cabinet has given a go-ahead for the construction of the second Chiang Mai international airport, either in San Kamphaeng district of Chiang Mai or in Ban Thi district of Lamphun, said government spokesman Lt-Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd. The Cabinet mobile meeting in Sukhothai endorsed the Transport Ministry’s proposal to expand the current passenger’s terminal at Chiang Mai airport so that it will be able to accommodate up to 20 million passengers a year from the current 10 million passengers. The expanded terminal will also have the capacity to accommodate 34 flights per week from today’s 24 flights a week.
Lt-Gen Sansern said that new passenger’s terminal would also be built at Mae Sod, Phrae and Phetchabun airports whereas their runways would also be extended. Neither the 10 year Plan nor this Cabinet decision makes mention of any plans for the Hua Hin Airport which remains disconnected with the recent suspension of flights to Chiang Mai apart from any international flight approvals; much to the mystification of locals.