WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2024

Thailand in talks with China, Laos on aviation routes amid rising demand

Thailand in talks with China, Laos on aviation routes amid rising demand

Thailand is discussing with China and Laos a plan to open new aviation routes to cope with 100,000 more flights expected over their skies, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Co Ltd (Aerothai) president Nopasit Chakpitak said on Friday.

He said the proposed parallel routes were expected to help ease congestion in the current flight path set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) that passes a “bottleneck” in northwestern Laos.

After the three countries agree on the new aviation routes between Thailand and China via Laos, they will seek approval from the ICAO, Nopasit said, adding that the parallel routes were expected to be opened in early 2026 after meeting the ICAO’s safety requirements.

He said that Asia’s airline industry had seen signs of rapid expansion, especially in China and India, following purchase orders for more than 1,000 aircraft. Aerothai, a state enterprise under the Ministry of Transport, has accordingly seen the need to increase airspace capabilities to cope with the expected expansion.

“Discussion is underway between Thailand, Laos, and China over a plan to open new routes to accommodate more flights – from 100,000 per year currently to 200,000,” Nopasit said.

The planned parallel routes between Thailand and China will accommodate flights between the northern Thai provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and major Chinese cities like Kunming, Guiyang, Chengdu, Tianfu, Chongqing, and Xian, according to the Aerothai chief.

This plan for parallel flight routes would also facilitate the government’s policy of turning Thailand into a regional aviation hub, Nopasit said.

He said Thailand had seen a significant recovery in travel demand from China, with the number of flights to Thailand approximately reaching 80% of the level recorded before the pandemic struck. He also pointed out that India has become a “hot new market that continues to grow”.

As a result, Aerothai predicted more than 900,000 flights into Thailand this year, up from 800,000 last year. In 2025, the number of flights is expected to reach the pre-Covid level of 1 million, according to Nopasit.

Aerothai estimated that its revenue would be 11-12 billion baht this year, up from 10 billion last year, and would return to the pre-Covid level of 13 billion baht next year.