Chiang Mai executives outline plans for northern capital to soar


Business executives in Chiang Mai urged Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to build a second airport in the northern capital and extend the operating hours of the current one, during a meeting at Chiang Mai University on Saturday.

They called for the second airport to be named Lanna International Airport, and said Chiang Mai International Airport's operating hours should be extended to 24 hours a day to increase tourism. It currently closes at midnight.

Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT), which operates Chiang Mai International Airport, is implementing phase 1 of a plan that includes the construction of a new international passenger terminal and the renovation of the existing terminal for domestic passengers. This expansion, which is expected to cost about 10 million baht, will increase the airport's capacity to 18 million passengers per year.

Currently, Chiang Mai Airport can handle about 15 flights per hour – 150 flights per day on average. After the completion of Phase 1, the airport's capacity to handle flights will increase to 30 flights per hour.

AOT is also preparing a feasibility study for the construction of a second airport adjacent to Chiang Mai province in Lamphun province’s Ban Thi district. It will cover 2,767.6 acres and cost between 50 billion and 60 billion baht.

The feasibility study, however, is unlikely to be considered before Chiang Mai International Airport’s expansion has been completed.

Srettha provided a list after the meeting with entrepreneurs in Chiang Mai of the issues discussed.

1. Extending the operating hours of Chiang Mai Airport to accommodate more international flights and increase tourist numbers.

2. Construction of the second airport to serve Chiang Mai.

3. Promoting a "12 months, 12 events" policy to increase tourism year round.

4. Supporting international conferences and exhibitions, and promoting Chiang Mai's cultural traditions to attract tourists.

5. Leveraging soft power as the government's main policy.

6. Encouraging talented chefs in the northern region to become world-class chefs.

7. Urgently addressing the PM2.5 fine dust crisis in the North.

8. Provide state support and more access to funding for start-ups as well as connecting them to the global market.