Passenger traffic at major airports slows

Passenger traffic at major airports slows

Passengers at Don Mueang in Bangkok, one of the six airports operated by AoT. PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH
Passengers at Don Mueang in Bangkok, one of the six airports operated by AoT. PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH

Passenger traffic experienced slower growth at six major airports in Thailand in the first half but remained healthy by global standards.

Combined passenger throughput rose 8.15% in the first six months of 2017, compared with a 12.5% jump in the corresponding period last year. The six airports operated by the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), including Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang in Bangkok, handled 66.1 million passengers over that period, compared with 61.1 million a year earlier.

A recent clampdown on unlicensed Chinese tour packages was partly to blame, officials said. Chinese made up around one-third of foreign tourists last year but a ban imposed in July of that year on so-called "zero-dollar tours" seems to have having an impact.

A seasonal slowdown in international arrivals also reduced services at Suvarnabhumi while the partial closure of one of its runways for repairs from March 3 to May 2 further compounded its capacity constraints, industry analysts said.

Domestic tourism is also experiencing a slowdown, just not as acute. Domestic passenger traffic grew 13.5% in the first half of 2016 but only managed 10.1% this year -- with 28.7 million seats sold from this January to June, according to AoT figures. The corresponding figures for international traffic are 11.7% dropping to 6.77% this year -- with traffic hitting 37.4 million seats this year, the statistics show.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports reported 4.4% growth in international arrivals this year compared with the first half of 2016. This year's first-half figure stands at 17.3 million, contributing a total of 87.6 billion baht to the Thai economy, the ministry said.

Combined aircraft movement at the six airports has also taken a hit: first-half growth slowed from 9.12% in 2016 to 5.69% in 2017. Aircraft movements have followed suit, dropping from 411,916 to 389,740.

Suvarnabhumi registered the slowest growth rate in passenger movement in the first-half of this year among all six AoT-run facilities, with the figure rising 6.67% to 30.3 million.

Don Mueang, the country's second-busiest airport and a key Southeast Asian hub for low-cost carriers, saw its passenger tally grow by 8.15% to 18.9 million. Comparable growth figures at the other four airports are: Phuket, which rose 10.1% to 8.44 million; Chiang Mai, up 8.31% to 5 million; Hat Yai, up 14.8% to 2.22 million; and Chiang Rai, up 22.1% to 1.2 million.

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