Hua Hin airport to be further upgraded
Hua Hun airport in Prachuap Khiri Khan will be further upgraded to serve larger aircraft serving long-haul flights in two years, once tourist numbers begin to rebound and the international aviation industry returns to normal.
Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam revealed the plan while inspecting upgrade works at the airport on Saturday.
Mr Thaworn said he has asked the Department of Airports to work together with the public and private sector on a plan to further develop the airport, to meet the projected demand for air connections to the popular seaside destination.
The number of air passengers departing from Hua Hin airport jumped from 17,000 in 2018 to 45,000 in 2019, when the district welcomed some 7 million tourists which generated some 43 billion baht in tourism-related income, according to the ministry's figures.
"Demand for air services to Hua Hin is high, as evidenced by the leap in passenger figures right before Covid-19 disrupted travel," he said.
"So further upgrades are necessary, as the International Air Transport Association says the domestic aviation market will return to normal next year, and the international market the year after that."
The deputy minister also said the income from tourist arrivals will help boost the economic recovery once the Covid-19 pandemic ends.
The upgrade -- likely to take effect in the 2023 fiscal year -- will see the airport's runway further expanded from 2,100 to 3,000 metres to accommodate larger jets serving longer flights of between 10–12 hours, he said.
Hua Hin airport is in the middle of a 250-million-baht renovation, which began last year.
Its runway is being widened from 35 to 45m to allow narrow-body jets, such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, to operate out of the airport.
"Once completed, the airport will be able to handle up to five of these aircraft types at the same time," the deputy minister said.
"These are usually used for regional hops with flight times of up to 4–5 hours." A new taxiway and passenger terminal are being built, which will allow the airport to handle a maximum of 900 passengers an hour, or equivalent to 2.6 million annually.
At present, the airport can handle about 300 passengers an hour, or 860,000 annually.