Govt wants more China, Laos routes

Govt wants more China, Laos routes

The government will ask Laos and China to open more flight routes to Thailand over the next two years to help fulfil Thailand's ambition to become a regional aviation hub, spokesman Chai Watcharonke said on Monday.

Mr Chai said it is part of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's "Ignite Thailand" vision, which seeks to elevate Thailand's status to hubs in eight main industries, including aviation, by 2030.

According to one recent forecast by the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai), Mr Chai added that air traffic between Thailand and the two countries would double if talks to increase flights prove fruitful.

With this vision in mind, Mr Chai said that the government is coming up with ideas to tighten up the domestic aviation industry so that it remains competitive and is able to grow no matter the economic climate.

More capacity for flights into and out of the country would provide airlines with attractive options to fly to or stop over in Thailand, thereby creating economic opportunities and a brighter future for the aviation industry, Mr Chai added.

The proposed talks with Laos and China came after Mr Srettha visited Sri Lanka on Feb 3-4.

During the official visit, the premier witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement on air transport, customs, and air safety aimed at raising Thai airline standards to meet the criteria set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The agreement has resulted in the resumption of regular flights between Bangkok and Colombo by flag carrier Thai Airways International.

"Thailand is positioned as the central point of the Southeast Asian region in terms of geography.

Earlier this month, Mr Srettha spoke of plans to be put in place to expand existing airports and construct new ones.

One notable project is the expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport to add new terminals and build two more runways. Once completed, the airport will be able to handle 150 million passengers a year, double its current capacity.

Two new airports will also be built -- one in the North and one in the South.

Lanna International Airport will serve as a second airport in Chiang Mai and other northern provinces.

Andaman International Airport in Phang-nga will complement the long-haul hub in southern Thailand. Together, these new airports will accommodate an additional 40 million passengers a year, he said.

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