The Transport Ministry will ask the military to free up more air space for commercial use to alleviate air traffic congestion, Deputy Transport Minister Prin Suwannathat says.
The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, which is in charge of air traffic control, has said air congestion is now reaching critical levels.
The number of flights a day in the first three months of the 2013 fiscal year was 1,735, compared with 1,575 in the same period the previous year.
The deputy transport minister said congestion is expected to worsen due to the growth of tourism and aviation.
"Increasing congestion could pose air safety concerns while creating unnecessary fuel costs for airlines and delays for passengers," he said.
"The problem is likely to worsen," he added.
Gen Prin said the ministry is asking for 20% of military air space, which is usually reserved for training, and possibly as much as 90% during peak periods.
A source at the Department of Civil Aviation said the military, especially the air force and the navy, do not make full use of the air space.
The department has tried to negotiate for clearance but talks so far have been inconclusive, the source said.
"There is a possibility that we will get clearance if a minister steps in," the source added.
Gen Prin said the ministry will also ask the navy for clearance to use U- tapao airbase in Chon Buri occasionally to help manage air traffic at airports.
He said the measure will be part of the ministry's air traffic safety plan.
The minister said other air safety issues to be addressed include the release of bamboo rockets and lanterns, and broadcasts by community radio stations.
Lanterns have become a serious air traffic hazard as they have been released more frequently. Community radio station broadcasts disturb aeronautical radio communication, especially during take-offs and landings, he said.
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- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook