Betong airport runway will be extended, says army chief

Betong airport runway will be extended, says army chief

Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong inspects progress in the construction of Betong airport in Yala province, on Friday. (Photo and video by Wassana Nanuam)
Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong inspects progress in the construction of Betong airport in Yala province, on Friday. (Photo and video by Wassana Nanuam)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the extension of the runway at the new airport being built at Betong in Yala from 1,800 metres to 2,100 metres, to serve larger aircraft and increase tourist numbers, according to army chief Apirat Kongsompong.

Gen Apirat announced this when he inspected progress in the construction of Betong international airport on Friday. 

He said the airport was a long-time dream of local residents, first floated in 1995. 

When Gen Prayut was 1st Army deputy chief he had visit the district and learned of their need. Now, as prime minister, he had now made it a reality.

The planned runway was 1,800 metres in length, which could handle ATR twin turbo-prop aircraft, but the prime minister had ordered its extension to 2,100 metres to accommodate the larger Boeing 737 and 747 aircraft, he said.

Nok Air and Bangkok Airways and Malaysia's Firefly airline have already said they planned to fly to Betong.

The airport is expected to draw one million visitors a year after its scheduled opening in June next year, and bring about 3 billion baht income to the district. It was designed to handle up to 300 passengers per hour.

Betong airport is more than 100 kilometres from other airports, the nearest being Penang international Airport in Malaysia. It takes about 10 minutes to drive from downtown Betong to the airport.

The 4th Army Region and Internal Security Operations Command would jointly provide security for the airport, which is under the supervision of Narathiwat airport, the general said.

Gen Apirat later visited the outpost of the 44th Border Patrol Police in Than To district and Wat Than To temple, which was a military outpost when Gen Apirat was commander of the 14th task force from 2004-2005.

Ustaz Lasi Dorlor, 60, an Islamic religious teacher in Than To district, joined other residents to welcome the army chief.  He broke into tears when the army chief said he remembered him.

He was accompanied on his tour by 1st Army chief  Lt Gen Narongpan Jitkaewthae, 4th Army chief Pornsak Poonsawat ande Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre chief Rr Admi Somkiat Pholprayoon.



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