Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, AOT president
Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, AOT president

Rebound in Chinese tourists lifts airport passenger numbers

Economy May 07, 2019 01:00

By THE NATION

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THE NUMBER of passengers travelling through the six airports run by Airports of Thailand (AOT) reached 38 million in the first quarter this year, up 4.49 per cent over the same quarter last year and largely driven by a rebound of Chinese arrivals, according to the company.



AOT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said he expects the total number of passengers to increase by 6-7 per cent for the entire year.

“We found the number of passengers at our airports has increased continuously in the first quarter of this year and reached about 38.73 million people, up 4.49 per cent compared to the same quarter of last year. Of them, about 23.19 million were passengers on international flights, which were up 5.30 per cent compared to the same quarter last year, and another 15.53 million were passengers on domestic flights, down 1.20 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

“The market for Chinese tours is coming back, as seen from the higher number of passengers travelling through Chinese airlines.”

He noted an AOT requirement forbids individual airlines to be more than 20 per cent late on arrivals, departures or cancelled flights, or they will see their next flying slot cut. 

“This results in many international airlines competing to arrange promotions to keep their slots and ensure their flight slots at AOT airports are fully occupied at all times. We also anticipate that the tourism industry will continue to be healthy for the whole year, and will encourage an increase in the number of passengers at our six airports by between 6 per cent and 7 per cent, up from the 139.52 million recorded last year,” said Nitinai.

Suvarnabhumi Airport saw the number of passengers jump by 6.22 per cent year on year in the first quarter of this year to 17.65 million, followed by Don Mueang Airport, which saw a 2.8 per cent passenger increase in the first quarter to 10.69 million, and Phuket Airport with 1.09 per cent to 5.34 million passengers.

The number of passengers at Chiang Mai Airport also increased by 9.26 per cent in the first quarter to 3.21 million, while Chiang Rai Airport saw a 5.52 per cent bump to 806,102 people. Meanwhile, passengers at Hat Yai Airport dropped 4.79 per cent in the first quarter to about 1.01 million.

The number of flights across the six airports increased by 4.76 per cent in the first quarter over last year to 233,107, of which 127,951 were international flights, up 7.23 per cent compared to the same quarter last year. 

Another 105,156 were domestic flights, up 1.90 per cent. Suvarnabhumi Airport posted the highest number of flights at 98,435, up 6.50 per cent over the same quarter in 2018, followed by Don Mueang Airport with a 2.71 per cent increase in flight numbers to 68,987. The number of flights at Phuket Airport also increased 0.68 per cent in the first quarter to 31,463.

The number of passengers who travelled through low-cost airlines reached 19.02 million in the first quarter of this year, up 6.36 per cent over last year, of which 8.05 million passengers were on international routes, up 16.53 per cent. Another 10.96 million passengers were on domestic routes, down 0.04 per cent from the same quarter last year.

Don Mueang Airport shows the highest number of passengers using low-cost airlines at 10.57 million in the first quarter this year, up 3.74 per cent compared to the same quarter last year, following by Phuket Airport at 2.49 million, up 4.34 per cent; and Suvarnabhumi Airport at 2.37 million, up 27.57 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.