Bangkok's Airport Rail Link still suffering big losses from drop in passenger numbers

SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2023

Bangkok’s Airport Rail Link operator has been losing approximately 70 million baht per month as passenger traffic has not returned to pre-pandemic levels yet, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said.

The monthly passenger numbers currently come in at 1.87 million, down from 2.5 million before the pandemic, SRT governor Nirut Maneepan said on Friday.

The railway links Suvarnabhumi International Airport to downtown Bangkok.

The SRT is in the process of transferring the Airport Link’s management rights to Asia Era One, a subsidiary of Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group.

CP Group also leads the consortium that won the 276.5-billion-baht contract for a high-speed railway linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports.

The Airport Link transfer, however, is pending as the contract requires adjustments related to the drop in passengers.

Nirut said SRT was willing to let Asia Era One pay the 10.67-billion-baht fee for management rights in instalments instead of a one-time payment, though it will be charged a monthly interest.

Under the contract, Asia Era One also needs to contribute part of its profits to SRT, but it must shoulder its losses on its own.

Asia Era One has been unofficially operating the Airport Link since October 25, 2021. Nirut said judging from an average loss of 70 million baht per month, it will have already lost at least 1 billion baht since taking over.

He also said that though the transfer of management is not completed, the authority has received several complaints from Airport Rail Link passengers about service quality, such as air conditioners not working, overcrowding and long waits.

“We will discuss these issues with Asia Era One and find ways to fix them as soon as possible,” he said.