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Thailand expects to approve higher passengers’ fee

Bad news for travellers flying out of Thailand: airport taxes will be increased from the middle of next year. But possible good news: the tax will help funding the installation of automatic immigration gates to speed up the processing of passengers.

BANGKOK- To land or to depart to or from Thailand’s international airports looks increasingly challenging these days: endless queues and long waiting times generally greet passengers on their arrival or departure. New immigration counters were recently installed at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International airport but their number remains insufficient to effectively curb waiting times at counters due to the sharp growth in air travellers.

However, some changes could occur by next year as the government plans to install the Advance Passenger Processing (APP) to passengers entering and leaving the country. The system is due to ease queues for passengers waiting for their documents to be processed. Several countries have adopted the system at their major international airports, including Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea.

It would however come at a cost for passengers: Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt, chairman of Thailand’s Civil Aviation Board, announced that passengers might fetch an additional THB 50 (US$ 1.80) on top of a departure tax of THB 850.  If approved, the tax will be applied from the middle of next year to fund the improved passenger processing system.

The future automated system will allow passengers to simply walk through without needing to stop to get their passports stamped by an immigration officer. Of the THB 50 tax, the largest amount would go to the provider of the system (THB 32), the rest would go to the additional requirements such as modifying airport security lanes and providing training to officers.
The Minister indicated to journalists that the Civil Aviation Department will discuss the issue with airlines before taking a final decision.

The system will also help airport authorities to thoroughly examine the backgrounds of passengers leaving and entering the country for safety reasons and transmit details from one authority to another.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.