DOA seeks investors in 29 airports
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DOA seeks investors in 29 airports

The private sector is being urged to invest in the development of 29 airports nationwide in a drive to make Thailand an aviation hub for the Asia-Pacific region, Department of Airports (DOA) director-general Darun Saengchai said on Friday.

Speaking after a forum in which a survey was conducted on airport development under the department's supervision, Mr Darun said the survey aimed to gather opinions from the public and private sectors on the development of 29 airports across the country.

Of them, 28 are existing airports to be upgraded and a new one currently under construction in Yala's Betong district.

"A similar survey forum will be held in the provinces to gain local feedback on the project. They will be attended by private firms which express an interest in airport investment," he said.

After the survey, the department will work on business plans for the 29 airports which will be summarised within two months.

The plans will later be forwarded to relevant agencies overseeing the issue for approval.

Mr Darun said the DOA will keep an open mind on different business development models proposed by the private sector.

Each airport covers around 4,000-5,000 rai. Areas that remain vacant will be developed for commercial purposes.

Mr Darun said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak proposed the airport projects could be run under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) or privately-operated schemes.

The DOA director-general also defended the policy to encourage companies to invest in the airports, saying most of the existing airports were not suffering financial losses which would require commercial development to make them profitable.

Despite the fact that some of the airports in Nakhon Ratchasima, Phetchabun, Chumphon and Pattani were losing money, he insisted most airports were turning in profits each year.

The agency only wanted to enhance the economic potential of the airports with help from private companies, he added.

Besides, Mr Darun said the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) is also eyeing fresh investment to upgrade Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Tak's Mae Sot airports to regional aviation hubs to serve growing traffic there.

The three airports are also supervised by the DOA.

Mr Darun said initial talks on airport development were held between the DOA and AoT.

The airport development operation will be proposed to the department if the AoT decides to launch the investment plans.

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