Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit plans to acquire some flight slots from the air force to serve growing demand from airlines to boost tourism.
Mr Suriya said on Thursday that that he learned from Airports of Thailand that the air force had many unused flight slots at the country’s airports. He subsequently asked Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang to look into allocating some of the unused slots to commercial flights.
Both ministers are members of the coalition-core Pheu Thai Party.
“A share of the slots should increase the number of (commercial) flights by 100-150 per day,” Mr Suriya said.
Slot allocation must be arranged to serve the demand of travellers and airlines as much as possible, and for the time being airlines need more slots, the minister said.
“Tourism is the top priority as the high season is approaching,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) is responsible for slot allocation based on its assessment of airports’ handling capacities.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) last month expressed concern about a possible shortage of flight slots in the coming high season.
The TAT has estimated that the number of flights to the country will reach 85% of 2019 pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year, with a growing number of airlines applying for new slots available at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok and Phuket International Airport.