[ Thailand ] The Department of Airports (DOA) wants the Airports of Thailand Pls (AOT) to manage 2 airports

21 November 2017

The Department of Airports (DOA) will propose handing over the rights to manage Tak and Udon Thani airports to the Airports of Thailand Pls (AOT) in a bid to step up efficiency, DOA director Darun Sangchai said yesterday.

As the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has recently lifted its red flag on the country signifying ebbing safety concerns with Thai aviation, the DOA will be able to offer more opportunities to local enterprises and start-ups to use commercialised areas of the airports, he said.

Mr Darun gave the Kasetsart University Research and Development Institute's study of future plans for the DOA as a reference point.

The DOA controls 28 airports while the AOT manages six, Bangkok Airways privately owns three and the military owns one for public use.

The DOA, along with Kasetsart institute researcher Nawatat Kongsmut, said it would help "create value" by granting the AOT the right to manage more profitable airports like those in Udon Thani and Tak.

Udon Thani airport earns 100 million baht in profit each year and has a bright future due to its proximity to Laos, Mr Darun said.

Transferring the management of the two airports to the AOT would extend the body's reach nationwide, he added.

The government controls 70% of AOT while 30% is privately owned. As such, the DOA said it has high hopes the transfer would lead to improved infrastructure and stability at these two smaller airports.

The study also proposed inviting the private sector to invest in and manage the airports according to a public-private partnership.

It singled out Lampang, Phetchabun, Nakhon Ratchasima and Chumphon airports, Mr Darun said, adding he would propose the idea to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith this month.

"Between 2009 and 2016 the number of passengers arriving within our affiliated 28 airports has risen by 25%, and 17 of them are profitable which means they are self-sustaining," Mr Darun said.

"We have around 1 billion baht in revenue per year to subsidise the other airports, which are breaking even or making a loss, but there are many other channels of revenue we should consider as we do not even charge airlines for using our jet bridges," he added.

Mr Nawatat said the air transport sector has created 3.3 million jobs.
"It contributes US$48 billion to the economy and supports 12% of the nation's GDP," he said. Due to the number of bodies governing the Thai aviation industry, cooperation can be complicated and difficult at times, he added.

He said the DOA wants to see safety concerns lifted but also better accommodate the annual influx of tourists, who are already stretching Thai airports to over-capacity.

Louis Jr Moser, president of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC), said many obstacles are blocking Thailand's path to becoming a key player in the aviation industry.

"There are four areas that are crucial and Thailand is still lacking them all: compliance, [speed], smartness and cost-efficiency. Also, there has yet to be proper certification of our safety and security," he said.

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Credit: Bangkok Post
Credit link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/transport/1364027/doa-wants-aot-to-manage-2-airports

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