Airports to avoid losses: AoT chief

Airports to avoid losses: AoT chief

Suvarnabhumi is one of the airports operated by Airports of Thailand Plc. (Bangkok Post photo)
Suvarnabhumi is one of the airports operated by Airports of Thailand Plc. (Bangkok Post photo)

The Airports of Thailand (AoT) is unlikely to post losses in the current fiscal year, despite the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, says its president, Nitinai Sirismatthakarn.

Although the virus outbreak has forced many airports and airlines to shut for several months, AoT's operations during the high season from October 2019 to January 2020 were strong enough to offset losses, he said.

Mr Nitinai said that during those first four months of the fiscal year, AoT reported profits of 10.9 billion baht, adding: "I don't think AoT will see losses this year or the losses will be small. Operations during the first four months were good enough to carry us over the entire year."

However, Mr Nitinai said his optimism did not extend to the next fiscal year as the aviation and travel industries were unlikely to recover by the time the high season started in October this year.

"But the first four months [October until January] will be the worst because there will be no vaccines. We expect vaccines to arrive in July next year," he said.

AoT is currently handling 500-600 passengers returning from overseas each day, compared with a daily average of 400,000 passengers at its six airports before the Covid-18 pandemic. Of those, 200,000 were international passengers who paid the passenger service charge (PSC) of 700 baht, several times more than domestic passengers.

It is hard to predict how post-Covid tourism will look, he said, and it also remained to be seen how many struggling airlines would still even be operating at that time.

Commenting on the proposed 42-billion-baht second terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport, he said the project had not yet been put on hold but was under review by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

He added that AoT would on July 29 consider a Thai AirAsia proposal to move its hub back to Suvarnabhumi and if that went ahead, it would affect the second airport's earnings.

Mr Nitinai said Don Mueang served short international routes to countries including China, South Korea and Japan and those flights might be the first to resume when the crisis eases.

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