More international flights expected at Hua Hin Airport later this year

Hua Hin Airport. File Photo. Hua Hin Today

Passengers wishing to fly internationally from Hua Hin Airport might not have to wait too much longer.

On Friday (April 21), attendees at the meeting of the Royal Coast Riviera Club heard how international flights are expected to be operating to and from Hua Hin Airport in the near future.

Since 2021, a project has been in place to significantly upgrade and improve Hua Hin Airport both in terms of the availability of flights and infrastructure.

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Despite various setbacks, which were further exacerbated by the pandemic, more international flights are expected to arrive at Hua Hin Airport later this year, according to John LaRoche, CEO of the Phoenix Group which is leading the upgrade to the airport.

Hua Hin Airport currently serves a limited number of domestic flights between Hua Hin and Chiang Mai but more flights are likely to be announced after Thailand holds the general election on May 14.

“My personal opinion is that we will see the first international flight land just after the election, although I won’t speculate on the significance of that date,” Mr LaRoche told attendees during the April meeting of the Royal Coast Riviera Club.

Mr LaRoche, whose Phoenix Group has a 5-year agreement to manage the airport, also revealed some of the improvements that have been made to the airport in order to accommodate more flights.

John LaRoche, CEO of Phoenix Group, speaking at the meeting of the Royal Coast Riviera Club on April 21 at the Amari Hua Hin.

During the pandemic, the Phoenix Group used the time to review and begin rectifying many of the issues that may have previously prevented international flights from landing at the airport.

One of the improvements includes the construction of a fence around the perimeter of the airport that runs alongside the beach.

Previously, during low tide, it was possible for someone to walk from the beach and onto the runway, creating a safety hazard. The new fence ensures that the airport is secure and safe for both passengers and aircraft.

Aside from the perimeter fence, other upgrades have been implemented at the airport, including the widening of the runway from 35 meters to 45 meters. This expansion ensures that the runway meets international safety requirements, allowing larger aircraft to land at the airport.

Mr LaRoche said he was not able to explain why an A320 or 737 from Chiang Mai can land at the airport but are unable to from destinations such as Hong Kong or Singapore.

However, he did say that the majority of the issues preventing international flights from landing at Hua Hin have now been rectified.

In terms of investment into the airport, the government has already allocated some 750 million baht for further improvements, which are set to begin in 2024.

These upgrades will see a significant extension of the main terminal building, with the construction of an additional gate in order to accommodate both domestic and international arrivals.

The problem currently is that because the airport only has one gate, it is not possible for a domestic flight and an international flight to land at the same time.

The construction of the additional gate would solve this problem, while the improvements overall will enhance the airport’s capacity to handle more flights and passengers.

Mr LaRoche said the focus of the Phoenix Group has always been to develop Hua Hin Airport to one which serves international flights as opposed to domestic flights.

Hua Hin Airport
Hua Hin Airport. File photo

“When we secured the rights to the airport it was to develop Hua Hin as an international destination,” Mr LaRoche said.

“I get lots of questions about [the possibility of flights to] Bangkok, Phuket or other domestic destinations but we have not actively pursued those destinations unless they are tied to an international route,” Mr LaRoche added.

Excitingly, a number of ​​Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) have already been agreed upon with several airlines for flights to and from various destinations such as Go First from India, Great Bay Airlines from Hong Kong, and China Express from China, which once the airport is fully operational will be converted into contracts.

Additionally, an MOU is in place with Nok Air for flights to Singapore and Phuket.

The international destinations are within an approximate five hour radius from Hua Hin, which would enable A320s or 737s to land at the airport, Mr LaRoche explained.

In terms of tourism, these destinations account for approximately 80 percent of the tourist arrivals to Thailand.

Mr LaRoche explained that the MOUs that are already in place would represent approximately five international flights per day arriving at Hua Hin Airport by the end of the first year.

Mr LaRoche said he also expects AirAsia to resume its flight between Hua Hin and Kuala Lumpur in the near future.

Mr LaRoche ended his update by saying that there could be significant progress with regards to more flights at Hua Hin Airport “in the coming weeks”.

When the plans to overhaul Hua Hin Airport were first announced in 2021, it was expected that up to one million passengers would be arriving at the airport within three years.

In other related airport news, Air Asia has confirmed that flights between Hua Hin and Chiang Mai will operate four times per week.

Until October, flights will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Hua Hin-Chiang Mai (Dep: 16:05, Arr: 17:20)
Chiang Mai-Hua Hin (Dep: 14:15, Arr: 15:35)

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