The newly opened Betong airport welcomed its first commercial passenger flight shortly after noon on Monday.
Flight DD6260, a Nok Air service from Bangkok, was welcomed at a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. He was accompanied by his deputy, Anutin Charnvirakul and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.
Government spokesman, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, said the government will promote Betong, Thailand's southernmost district, as a tourism destination -- especially given its location, which is right on the border with Malaysia.
The newly opened airport has one 1,800-metre runway that can be used by smaller turboprop aircraft, such as ATR-72s and Bombardier Q-400s. Its passenger terminal covers an area of about 7,000 square metres.
The airport will improve Betong district's connectivity since prior to the airport's launch, the district was only reachable by road which cuts through mountains, the spokesman said, adding the launch of Betong airport is in line with the government's policy to continuously improve the country's transport infrastructure.
In addition to linking Betong district with the rest of the country, the airport has the potential to become a hub for regional flights between Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Gen Prayut also thanked the area's residents for their cooperation throughout the airport's construction, Mr Thanakorn said, before saying that the premier promised to launch similar infrastructure projects in other parts of the country.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, centre, and his entourage arrive at Betong airport in Yala. They were on the first commercial flight, operated by Nok Air, to land at the new airport yesterday. Gen Prayut presided over the airport's opening ceremony and met passengers.