Transport ministry to submit management transfer plan for 3 airports

Transport ministry to submit management transfer plan for 3 airports

Buri Ram is one of the three airports under the supervision of the Department of Airports which is expected to be transferred to Airports of Thailand Plc. (Photo: Buri Ram airport Facebook account)
Buri Ram is one of the three airports under the supervision of the Department of Airports which is expected to be transferred to Airports of Thailand Plc. (Photo: Buri Ram airport Facebook account)

A plan to transfer the management of three airports currently under the supervision of the Department of Airports to Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) is likely to be submitted to the cabinet for approval in April.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the management transfer plan will be submitted to the ministry's panel set up to clear hand-over hurdles next month. It will then be forwarded to the cabinet.

Under the plan, which has been in the pipeline since 2018, the management of Udon Thani, Krabi and Buri Ram airports will be transferred to AoT, which is the operator of six airports, including the country's main gateways, Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan and Don Mueang in Bangkok.

The move is aimed to expand the capacities of these three airports and turn them into regional air transport hubs that are well-positioned to handle more tourists.

Mr Saksayam said that once the cabinet approves the proposal, AoT and the department will work together on the transfer process, which is expected to be completed in June. The issue will then be forwarded to the cabinet for acknowledgement in July, he noted.

The plan follows Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's instruction in 2018. He instructed relevant agencies to conduct a study into the transfer of four airports — Udon Thani, Mae Sot, Sakon Nakhon and Chumphon — under the department to AoT. Gen Prayut stressed that the process must be in line with the law and regulations.

However, the list of the targeted airports has been changed to Udon Thani, Buri Ram in the Northeast and Krabi in the South to support the ministry's scheme to develop the airport system and cluster-based aviation transport.

Udon Thani and Buri Ram airports will serve as a cluster for the northeastern region, while Krabi airport will accommodate tourism in the South and alleviate the busy traffic at the Phuket international airport. Tak airport has been dropped because it does not have enough potential to function as a logistical centre.

AoT is expected to compensate the department for losing the right to manage the three airports, which have generated the department a steady income. AoT is looking into ways to compensate the department. 

With the transfer of the three airports to AoT's supervision, the department's revenue is expected to plummet. Udon Thani and Krabi airports are among a few department-supervised airports that are profitable.


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