By THE NATION
“In the next 5-6 years, AOT is planning to merge the Hat Yai Airport with Phuket Airport,” he said. “We are also drafting a plan to construct a second airport in the Phuket area.”
Nitinai noted that while Hat Yai is an economic centre of the South, it is not a travel hub. “People who travel to Hat Yai often find it difficult to catch a plane to other places,” he said. “Hat Yai Airport has seen a decline in tourists over the past few years, especially from neighboring countries like Malaysia, and visitors have gradually shifted their primary destination from Hat Yai to Phuket to take advantage of the abundance of connecting flights and tourist attractions there.
Nitinai added that in the 2019 fiscal year (Oct. 2018 – Sep. 2019), Hat Yai Airport serviced only 4.02 million passengers, a 5.6 per cent decrease over the previous year, while the number of flights also fell 7.4 per cent to a current slate of 2,027 flights annually.
Meanwhile, the Mae Fah Luang Airport is facing similar problems due to lack of connecting flights and facilities that have not yet been fully developed to attract foreign tourists.
Besides considering closing down and merging airports, AOT will be seeking additional sources of income to cover losses, such as renting the airport areas to private users and providing security services for other organizations.
The six airports under AOT administration are Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang International Airport, Phuket International Airport, Chiang Mai International Airport, Mae Fah Luang - Chiang Rai International Airport and Hat Yai International Airport.
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