LONDON – Thailand’s airport authority, Airports of Thailand (AOT) has forecast a passenger flow of 2 million international and domestic travellers through Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport and 5 other major airports across the New Year break.
A problem that a country like Thailand, a tourism independent economy would like to have, is a large inflow of tourists into the Kingdom means more economical benefits, which might lead to a capacity crunch at its 6 international airports.
Despite this, the AOT says that it is prepared for the surge in passenger movements.
Economic package – Key to tourism boom?
Thailand’s government is likely to keep its economic stimulus plans to boost consumption and tourism campaigns will see a pent-up demand during the holiday season as the AOT forecasted that it could see a rise of more than 170% in traffic movements year-on-year.
The airport body says it might see as many as 2 million passengers at its 6 managed and owned airports during the New Year holiday.
Which are the 6 Airports?
The Airport Authority of Thailand plc. manages 6 airports, including its main airport, and the busiest, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The other major airports are: Don Mueang International Airport, Phuket International Airport, Chiang Mai International Airport, and Chiang Rai International Airport.
Facts and figures
The 2 million passengers forecasted within the next couple of days include both domestic and international passengers according to the group. This would mean a 171.28% increase from last year and will welcome over 12,190 passengers or an impressive increase of 87.01%.
This shows that travel in this region is somewhat returning to normalcy and the decrease in the fear of the covid-19 virus.
The AOT, one of Thailand’s wealthiest companies in terms of market capitalisation is headed by its President, Mr Nitinai Sirismatthakarn.
He stated that out of the 2 million passengers, 50% of the figure are foreigners, which is an impressive 832.51% increase year-on-year.
This move comes after the Kingdom welcomed its border for foreign tourists in July 2021. Domestic figures, on the other hand, would show a 57.05% rise from the same month of last year.
AOT’s top man furthered that there is an increase of 87.01% from the total 12,190 flights recorded. International flights make up 5,340 of the 12,190 flights, meaning that there is a 260.53% rise year-on-year, whilst domestic flights would represent a 35.98% increase year-on-year at 6,850 flights respectively.
The AOT reiterates the importance of maintaining health protocols as the Thai population is still succumbing to the relaxation of health protocols. Though the AOT did not specify how it would maintain its standards and operating procedures thereof.
Will automated systems and AI help deal with the surge?
The Company’s president illustrates the need for a more inclusive usage of technology. AOT earlier this year introduced an application called the SAWASDEE application, where holiday-goers can conveniently check real-time information.
The information accessible includes flight status, check-in counter location, check-in and queuing times at immigration, and check and security. This information is aided by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and crowd-controlling measurements.
On the automation aspects, all AOT airports are equipped with automatic check-in kiosks and baggage groups to facilitate seamless check-in.
Passengers at the main airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport are entitled to seek assistance 24-hours a day as flights arrive erratically at different times. This makes the airport a truly international hub.
AOT stated in November that it expects all of its managed airports’ passenger numbers to rise to 96 million in the 2022-2023 fiscal year from the 46 million it had achieved in the last fiscal year. In fact, the 96 million passenger mark represents two-thirds of the overall traffic prior to 2020.
The airport group expects 400,000 passengers per day or 143 million by the fiscal years 2023 -2024, which is a pre-Covid number. This is a milestone that every airport would want to achieve.
Nevertheless, whether the traffic has reached 2019 levels or not, the rise in passengers travelling aided AOT to report a 1.7 billion baht profit during the fiscal year of October 2022.
By comparison, AOT reported a 2.7 billion baht loss in 2021. The profit levels in 2022 are a far cry from the 2018-2019 profit levels of 26 billion.
Are they really ready for the surge?
Yes, they are ready for the short-term surge, but there are improvements that need to be made in the overall uptick in demand throughout 2024 and beyond.
Automation will surely increase convenience and comfort, but both airports of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang are facing a capacity crunch which needs to be tackled, including building more spaces on both the airside and landside.