AoT to take control of four airports
Four major state-owned airports upcountry are set to be managed by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) to provide improved but costlier services for airliners and air travelers alike.
Udon Thani and Sakon Nakhon airports in the Northeast, Tak airport in the North and Chumphon in the upper South are expected to have a brighter future when they are run in a more corporate style by the AoT, which is jointly owned by the state and private investors.
AoT is the operator of six airports, including Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang.
"Airlines and passengers are certain to pay more, but they will receive superbly different services," permanent secretary for transport Chaiwat Thongkhamkhun said after a meeting on Wednesday.
"We can't accept the services staying the same."
He did not elaborate on what major upgrades would be added to the four airports but stressed the government's policy to raise standards.
Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon, Tak and Chumphon airports are currently under the Department of Airports (DoA), which owns 28 airports across country.
Not all of its airports are in profit, however. According to former DoA chief Darun Sangchai, 17 turned a profit between 2009 and 2016 while the total number of passengers jumped 25%.
The DoA used the profits to support airports facing a loss or breaking even.
The DoA first planned to have the AoT manage Udon Thani and Tak airports. It later added Sakon Nakhon and Chumphon to the list.
Udon Thani is among the money-making airports with profits reaching 100 million baht a year, Mr Darun said earlier.
It has the potential to grow further and become a key airport in the region as it is located near Laos, he said.
A Transport Ministry panel has been set up to clear obstacles to the transfer, including staff issues and contracts with lessors of commercial space.