Chiang Mai International Airport will begin operating around the clock from next Wednesday as a response to the government's Quick-Win economic stimulus policies, said Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.
According to Mr Suriya, the expanded working hours, ordered directly by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, are seen as necessary given the expectation that tourists will be flooding in during the peak season at the end of the year and in the future due to the visa-free scheme for Chinese and Kazakh visitors, among other factors.
Responding to the policy pushed out by Airports of Thailand (AoT), the airport in this northern province will expand its hours from 6am to 12am to a round-the-clock operation from Nov 1.
A direct flight from Chiang Mai to Osaka in Japan, operated by Thai Vietjet, will be the first to depart once the change is made. It will leave Chiang Mai at 12.30am that day.
Mr Suriya said the ministry had ordered the AoT to discuss how to arrange appropriate flight routes and schedules with carriers and related sectors.
These must follow the airport's environmental impact assessment (EIA) and have the least impact on residents living near the airport. A suitable compensation plan for those who will be impacted by the expanded operation hours will also be discussed.
The AoT will also hold a public hearing with any residents impacted by the expanded hours later, said Mr Suriya.
Mr Suriya also ordered related sectors to improve their services and facilities to support the province's tourism and hospitality sectors.
The expanded operating hours aim to unlock the limitation on tourists' time while travelling in the province while also providing an alternative for carriers when they arrange their flight routes and schedule time slots.
As the airport has already been welcoming 4,800 visitors from 20 international flights a day, the government expects the 24-hour service will cause the number of international passengers to jump by about 30%, said Mr Suriya.