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Thai airports experience unprecedented growth, paving the way for a global aviation hub

Airports of Thailand - Suvarnabhumi Airport

Thailand’s international airports see a 20% passenger increase, driven by strategic initiatives and infrastructure investments, positioning the country as a global aviation hub.

In a remarkable display of recovery and growth, Thailand’s six international airports, managed by Airports of Thailand (AOT), have recorded a significant surge in passenger numbers. Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit announced that in the first five months of 2024, these airports saw 52.16 million passengers, representing a 20.28% increase compared to the same period in 2023. This growth underscores Thailand’s resilience and its strategic initiatives aimed at enhancing its aviation sector.

The six key airports under AOT’s management—Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang, Phuket, and Hat Yai—handle 95% of Thailand’s domestic and international flights. At AOT’s 45th-anniversary celebration, held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Suriya emphasized that 32.05 million of these passengers were international arrivals, predominantly from Asia, Europe, and the United States. These foreign tourists contribute approximately 2.3 trillion baht annually to Thailand’s tourism industry, accounting for about 70% of the country’s annual expenditure budget.

Suriya, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister, highlighted the collaborative efforts of AOT and the Ministry of Transport in line with the government’s “Ignite Thailand” initiative. Launched in February, this ambitious plan aims to position Thailand as a hub for tourism, medical treatment, food, aviation, logistics, electric vehicles, the digital economy, and finance by 2030. The initiative focuses on substantial infrastructure investments and targeted promotional campaigns to attract both tourists and business travelers. These efforts have already propelled Thailand to the 8th spot among the world’s top tourist destinations.

AOT CEO Kirati Kitmanawat attributed the increase in international arrivals to the swift recovery of the global tourism industry following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the Thai government’s visa-free policy for visitors from China, Kazakhstan, India, and Taiwan. From October 2023 to May 2024, AOT reported 81.05 million passengers, reaching 83.4% of the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019. Of these, 48.95 million were international travelers, and 32.09 million were domestic passengers.

Financially, AOT has also seen a robust performance. From September 2023 to March 2024, the organization recorded a revenue of 33.94 billion baht, marking a 71% year-on-year increase. This financial health reinforces AOT’s confidence in continued growth throughout the remainder of the year.

Ambitious future plans are also in place. The Ministry of Transport aims to elevate Thai airports into the top 20 global rankings within five years. Currently, Suvarnabhumi Airport stands at the 58th position worldwide, while Don Mueang is recognized among the top 10 best low-cost airports globally.

These developments highlight Thailand’s strategic advancements in the aviation sector, paving the way for it to become a leading global aviation hub. The concerted efforts by AOT and the government, underpinned by the “Ignite Thailand” initiative, are set to transform the country’s aviation and tourism landscape, driving economic growth and enhancing Thailand’s global standing in the years to come.

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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