Call for more low-cost airports
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Call for more low-cost airports

Mr Fernandes suggested that Phuket International Airport could be transformed to only accommodate full-service airlines.
Mr Fernandes suggested that Phuket International Airport could be transformed to only accommodate full-service airlines.

The Thai government should consider developing a low-cost dedicated airport or terminal, especially for the two new airports in Chiang Mai and Phuket, to accelerate tourism growth, according to Tony Fernandes, the co-founder of AirAsia.

"Most tourists are travelling through low-cost carriers," said Mr Fernandes, who is also chief executive of Capital A, the owner of AirAsia. "Low-cost carriers will continue to be a big driver for tourism in the long run."

Mr Fernandes said low-cost airports could be built more quickly.

He said low-cost airlines like AirAsia normally require simpler facilities with fewer operational costs and airport taxes compared to full-service carriers.

In comparison, terminals should have more choices such as three-star and five-star hotels that can serve different segments of travellers.

The Airport Authority of Thailand is studying the two new airports for major destinations in Chiang Mai and Phuket, in line with the policy announced by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

Mr Fernandes said he was happy to see Mr Srettha's determination to drive the tourism sector as it contributes a major part of the country's GDP.

He suggested Thailand could secure faster growth if the government adjusted some airport plans, such as transforming the existing Phuket International Airport to accommodate only full-service airlines and dedicate the new airport project in Phangnga to low-cost carriers.

"Thailand desperately needs airports," said Mr Fernandes. "I would like to encourage the government to develop tourism beyond Bangkok and Phuket."

He said governments in Southeast Asia should also ease the visa application process by using more online services and providing security through the use of technology for seamless travel.

On Monday, Mr Fernandes took on a new role as the executive chairman of Move, which was rebranded from AirAsia Digital.

Move combines airasia move, renamed from AirAsia Superapp, its online travel platform, and BigPay, a digital payment wallet service.

By 2025, Capital A aims to gain a majority of its revenue from non-airline businesses, including Move.

There will be more transactions from hotels, ride-hailing, food service, e-commerce and insurance, besides airline services, said Mr Fernandes.

The digital services in its application had 15 million active monthly users in the second quarter, while BigPay saw the number of card users growing 16% year-on-year.

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