Bangkok airports miss passenger targets

Bangkok airports miss passenger targets

Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports are bracing for an unusual situation in this year's high season as the political unrest and fewer tourists from China have set them on a course of missing their passenger targets.

Foreign tourists queue to check in at the departure hall of Suvarnabhumi Airport on Dec 3. Suvarnabhumi is seeing fewer passengers using the airport, party due to the political turmoil. (EPA file photo)

The last quarter of the year is supposed to be a golden period for airport operators as they seek to reap the benefits from the annually rising number of air travellers.

But Suvarnabhumi found its growth rate dropping for the Oct 28 to Dec 12 period, and was processing only 140,000 passengers a day, or around 2% growth compared to its 6% projection.

"We expected foreign passengers would rise by at least 6% in this winter flight schedule, which is the high season. Now the target has been missed," Suvarnabhumi general manager Rawewan Netrakavesna said.

Mrs Rawewan pointed to the continued political crisis as a factor leading to the fall of passenger numbers as more than 30 countries have issued advisory warnings to their citizens about coming to Thailand.

The Chinese government's strict regulation on cheap tour packages for tourists from China also contributed to the decline, she added.

The Chinese are one of the major groups of foreign tourists coming to Thailand in recent years.

The situation at Don Mueang is no different as passengers through the airport in the final quarter grew by only 1% from its projection of 8%.

The airport predicted around 17,000 passengers using Don Mueang every day, but the actual figure from Oct 28 to Dec 12 was only 15,000, Don Mueang general manager Chaturongkapon Sodmanee said.

Airlines flying in and out of Don Mueang increased their flights during the high tourist season but that did not help, he added.

The political wrangles and tough screening of tour operators in China were the main reasons contributing to the decline in the growth of travellers, he said.

Charter flights, a source of revenue for Don Mueang, fall by 30%, but domestic passengers remained stable, the airport chief added.

Don Mueang projects about 16 million passengers to use the airport this year and Mr Chaturongkapon was adamant that the projection is on course.

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