Hua Hin tipped to get international air link

Hua Hin tipped to get international air link

Hua Hin airport's terminal:  The seaside resort has yearned for air connection which is lacking. BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA
Hua Hin airport's terminal: The seaside resort has yearned for air connection which is lacking. BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA

Hua Hin may soon get a long-awaited steady international air link for the first time in years with the arrival of AirAsia from Malaysia.

The parent of Asia's largest low-cost carrier group is keen to launch scheduled flights from Kuala Lumpur to the Thai beach city in the next four months.

AirAsia is in talks with the Department of Airports, which operates Hua Hin airport, about the possibility of initially operating five flights a week starting in November, insiders told the Bangkok Post yesterday.

The department, local authorities and the Hua Hin tourism and hospitality industry are enthusiastic about AirAsia's plan, which will address the lack of regular commercial flights to the vacation destination.

With about 30,000 hotel rooms and extensive new amenities to serve a growing population of international tourists and residents in the area, the district of Prachuap Khiri Khan has yearned for both domestic and international air connections.

Commercial air services to Hua Hin were sporadic in the past as airlines retreated due to inadequate passenger traffic volumes.

Thailand's commuter airline Kan Air was the last to stop its limited domestic flights to Hua Hin early this year due to aircraft issues.

Earlier, no-frills Thai Lion Air dropped its Hat Yai-Hua Hin flights.

In late 2013, Nok Air commenced flights from its Don Mueang hub in Bangkok to Hua Hin but they were suspended shortly after wards.

While Hua Hin has not been served by commercial airlines recently, its airport attracts private business jets due to the increasing number of upmarket resorts nearby.

Its relatively short distance from Bangkok -- about three hours' drive -- has been blamed for making commercial air transport to Hua Hin unpopular.

AirAsia, which is well known for venturing into uncharted destinations, said it is aware of the risks and asked for a list of requirements to get its Kuala Lumpur-Hua Hin off the ground and stay afloat.

The airline has asked the department to waive parking and landing fees and reduce the passenger service charge, otherwise known as airport tax, which is at 400 baht for an international passenger, and reducing office space rental charges at the airport.

A meeting between the Hua Hin local government, the airport authority and tourism and hospitality bodies is scheduled for Aug 3 at the airport to discuss incentives that will make AirAsia flights to Hua Hin possible.

Department officials have indicated their willingness to at least waive parking and landing fees for AirAsia.

They also said the airport is capable of serving AirAsia's flights, which will be on Airbus A320 single-aisle jets with 180 seats.

Hua Hin airport's runway is 2,100 metres long, which matches the A320's requirements, while its passenger terminal can easily handle 300 passengers an hour.

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