Department of Airports protests Krabi airport bid

Department of Airports protests Krabi airport bid

The Department of Airports (DoA) has opposed Airports of Thailand's (AoT) plan to take control of Krabi airport as it is the DoA's main source of income.

DoA director-general Ampawan Wannako said yesterday that Krabi airport was one of four regional airports which the AoT is planning to take from the department.

The AoT already had plans to take control of and upgrade Udon Thani and Sakon Nakhon airports in the Northeast, Tak airport in the North, and Chumphon airport in the upper South.

However, the plan later changed to cover Krabi, Buriram, Tak and Udon Thani airports.

Losing Krabi airport would lead to maintenance problems at 24 other regional airports run by the DoA, Ms Ampawan said, before adding that Krabi airport provides 55% of the department's total income.

Last year, the department pocketed 852.5 million baht from operations at 28 airports under its control. Of that sum, Krabi airport alone contributed 469.4 million baht.

A takeover by AoT could mean a rise in air fares, Ms Ampawan hinted, as AoT's passenger service charges and aircraft parking fees are higher.

The DoA has already invested 6 billion baht to upgrade Krabi airport in order to pave the way for construction of a third terminal, bigger parking area, and parallel taxiway.

If the cabinet approves AoT's takeover of Krabi airport, who would fund the maintenance of the other 24 regional airports, staff, air transport services in other regions and new airport projects in remote areas, the DoA chief asked.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said yesterday he would discuss the takeover with the DoA and AoT. However, the outcome depends on the DoA since it owns the airport.

Moreover, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam said Krabi was a major airport in the South and served about 4 million passengers a year.

In a separate development, installation of extra automatic gates to redirect travellers to less busy immigration zones has been presented to combat congestion at Suvarnabhumi airport.

"Passenger flow at the country's main airport suffers from bottleneck problems," Mr Saksayam added.

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