THE FUTURE OF THE HUA HIIN AIRPORT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS
There has been an announcement made in August 2018 by the Airports Department Director General that 3.5 billion THB is to be spent to upgrade the Airport over the next five years. He was quoted as saying that this would include “enlarging the passenger terminal and widening the runway and expanding hangars”. Very recently Hua Hin Today had the opportunity to be much better informed by meeting with Airport Director, Mr. Apisit Ubolkomut, he’s someone who is very qualified to know the real story. The Department of Airports (DOA) is the Thai government department under the Ministry of Transport. It operates 28 civil airports throughout the country; including Hua Hin. However to describe the Hua Hin airport as Khun Apisit’s ‘own airport’ is not far from reality.
Khun Apisit has been the Director for the past 5 years but with an architectural background he was the lead designer of the building completed 25 years ago; he knows the facility intimately.
Khun Apisit is very comfortable and relaxed about any responding to question about ‘his’ airport; after all he answers such questions every day. His first question to us was “OK, what do you want to know?”; our immediate response was “what is the future of the Hua Hin Airport?”
Here’s what the community can expect with the following developments commencing very soon:
- Final confirmation to double the size of the terminal. The primary reason is the inability for the existing building to separate domestic and international passengers; vital for security, customs and immigration.
- It is also confirmed that the runway will be made wider from the exiting 35 metres to 45 metres wide along with additional aircraft tarmac ‘parking’ facilities.
- The length of the current runway is satisfactory for narrow bodied aircraft such as the A320 Airbus operated by Air Asia and may other lost cost carriers.
A longer runway for long haul carriers can be achieved with an extension of some 500 metres. However this could only be achieved with an extension seaward as private ownership inland prevents any western extension. There are no current proposals or considerations being given to this extension in the near future.
Next Khun Apisit was also able to dispel some of the more persistent rumours:
- There is no plan or active discussion for the construction of a new airport in the foreseeable future.
- The proximity of the Royal Palace poses no restrictions to the airport and is not a part of development considerations. The civil flying school adjoining the main airport is not problematic.
- Some very preliminary discussions have taken place with other carriers considering Hua Hin as a destination. Singapore and Myanmar appear to be the front runners however formal proposals are yet to be presented.
The current Air Asia daily flights to Kuala Lumper have been well patronised. Khun Apisit mentioned figures averaging around 70 – 80% of the capacity with a maximum passenger load of 185 people on the A320 craft. Previously domestic patronage to the most recent route to Chiang Mai was also popular but discontinued due to internal issues for the airline (Kan Air).
With completion of the extended passenger terminal there is no reason why domestic services cannot resume and that seems is likely in the future. Where these destinations may be awaits specific proposals.
Our thanks to Khun Apisit for his cooperation and the welcome to ‘his airport’. In summary; he describes the future of scheduled airline transport to Hua Hin as a combination of more international destinations and a reemergence of domestic flights.
It’s a carefully considered and conservative approach, rather than any more radical changes. This may well be the best formula for success and community acceptance.
The current Air Asia flight schedule to Kuala Lumper is as follows:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday: Depart HH 11.40 arrive KL 14.35 Depart KL 10.05 arrive HH 11.10
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday Depart:HH 15.00 arriveKL 18.20 Depart KL 13.40 arrive HH 14.40