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Suvarnabhumi » Air passenger through Thailand’s six major airports grew robustly in 2006

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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Traffic through Thailand’s six major airports grew robustly last year despite concerns that the September coup, teething problems at the new Suvarnabhumi airport and the transition from the old Don Muang airport would all adversely affect tourism.

Total passenger movements embarking, disembarking and transit through the airports operated by Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT) rose by 12.6% year-on-year to 53.03 million. The airports are Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Chiang Rai.

Combined aircraft movements takeoffs and landings increased 8.15% to 358,148, while total freight throughput rose 3.3%.

The bulk of the air traffic, or 81.3% of all passengers, went through Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports.

The Sept 19 coup appeared to have had a very slight impact on traffic through Bangkok. The switch from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi, and the bad publicity about deficiencies at the new airport, also failed to slow down air movements, aviation analysts said.

In fact, passenger volume through new Bangkok Airport, or more specifically Suvarnabhumi, hit a record monthly level of 4.17 million in December, spurred by the high travel season.

Major drivers of air travel last year were low-cost carriers, which handled 36.1% more passengers than the previous year. They accounted for 9.9 million passenger movements and 845,000 aircraft movements, up 35.4% from 2005.

International and domestic passenger movements through the six airports grew at about the same levels. International movements rose 12.5% to 33.74 million, while domestic passengers increased 12.8% to 19.29 million. International aircraft movements rose 5.4% to 204,438 and domestic ones 12% to 153,710.

However, cargo movements showed slower growth, rising 3.4% to 1.20 million tonnes for international freight and 2.64% for domestic shipments.

Aviation analysts expect traffic through the AOT-operated airports to grow this year, but at a slower rate than last year due to continuing political and economic uncertainties.

Preliminary AOT figures showed that passengers through Suvarnabhumi in January totalled 4.1 million, up from 3.8 million in the same period last year recorded at Don Muang.

On an annualised basis, Suvarnabhumi is handling 43 million passengers, inching toward its 45-million-passenger capacity.

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