Airports get 25% leap in passengers
Passenger traffic through six major airports in Thailand recorded a 25% jump in the first half of this year to reach 54.3 million.
The statistics, compiled by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), include Suvarnabhumi airport and reflect a robust recovery in the country's air travel from the same period last year when political turmoil put a dent in traffic.
Moving in tandem with the robust increase in passenger traffic was a 16% rise in aircraft movements — the combination of take-offs and landings — to reach a tally of 357,164 in the January-June period.
But cargo traffic through those AoT-operated airports was almost stagnant, inching up just 0.66% in the first half to 663,928 tonnes, partly mirroring the sluggish performance of Thai exports.
All six airports showed double-digit growth in passenger throughput in the period, with Bangkok's Don Mueang, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai recording the highest increases.
Passenger volumes through Don Mueang soared by 50.3% to 14.4 million, propelled by the proliferation of low-cost carriers' traffic as the airport's status as the hub for budget airlines expanded.
Don Mueang has the highest growth in passenger traffic in the Asia-Pacific region.
Driven by the rise in tourism, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai airports respectively enjoyed 30.6% and 24.5% rises in passenger throughput to register 4.04 million and 829,911.
Suvarnabhumi has maintained its importance as Thailand's gateway airport. It recorded 18.5% growth in passengers to 26.8 million, representing 49.3% of all traffic through AoT-operated airports.
Phuket, the country's third-busiest airport, showed the slowest growth in passenger traffic, at 10.3%, to 6.43 million, but that was not due to lack of demand but rather the airport's capacity constraints.
Hat Yai airport increased its passenger traffic by 24.1% to 1.81 million.
In terms of aircraft movements in the period, Don Mueang ranked first in growth with 31.8% to 108,287, followed by Chiang Mai with 24.9% to 31,922, Chiang Rai with 22.3% to 6,714, Phuket with 8.44% to 41,186, and Suvarnabhumi with 7.37% to 156,723.