Betong airport panel set up

Betong airport panel set up

The Transport Ministry has formed a working panel to ensure that the new Betong Airport in Yala province can be opened to the public as scheduled in December.

Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam told the media on Monday that the panel has been tasked with overseeing all technical aspects relating to the airport's operations.

Headed by Jua Ratchasi, assistant secretary to the Transport Minister, the panel's members comprise representatives from the Transport Ministry's Permanent Secretary Office, the Meteorological Department, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, Mr Thaworn said.

"We want to make sure that all technical operation and safety standards at the airport are in line with ICAO's [International Civil Aviation Organisation] guidelines," said Mr Thaworn.

The deputy minister insisted that the airport will be able to serve the public in December as scheduled.

Betong airport is currently in the process of obtaining its Air Navigation Facility Establishment Licence and the Public Aerodrome Operation Certificate from the CAAT. To date, the Air Navigation Safety Zone around the airport has yet to be announced.

Once all the requirements are met, the Department of Airports — which oversees Betong Airport — will ask a civil aviation committee, chaired by Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, to approve the opening of the airport.

Mr Thaworn said low-cost carrier Nok Air has expressed an interest in operating scheduled services between Bangkok's Don Mueang and Betong airports and is currently negotiating usage and service fees with the airport's management 

"A travel agency which operates seasonal charter flights has also shown interest in the airport," he said.

The deputy minister said other airlines look set to follow because of the introduction of the Special Tourist Visa scheme, which allows foreign tourists to enter the country on a long-term basis in a bid to revive the ailing economy hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government approved the construction of Betong Airport in late 2015 at a cost of 1.9 billion baht in a bid to promote tourism and attract investments to the border town.

The airport is expected to serve up to 300,000 passengers annually. 

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