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Suvarnabhumi » Flight times to Europe should be shortened by up to an hour

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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Flight times to Europe should be shortened by up to an hour from Thursday (July 5, 2007) when Aerothai launches a new regional air traffic flow management system.

The Bay of Bengal Cooperative Air Traffic Flow Management System (BOBCAT) will cut travelling time for west-bound flights departing from South Asia and Southeast Asia, Priti Hetrakul, president of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai), said yesterday. The BOBCAT system was designed to ease air traffic congestion over Afghanistan between the hours of 3am and 6.59am.

It reorganises the times flights should enter Afghanistan airspace, and at what altitude. It also designates a suitable flight path, reducing the need for detours.

Flights to Europe would be shortened by 30 to 60 minutes which was both a convenience for passengers and a considerable saving on jet fuel for airlines each year.

Aerothai developed Bobcat with approval from the International Civil Aviation Organisation and other regional governments, and had been operating on a trial basis for about a year now, he said.

The International Air Transport Association had been asked to share Aerothai’s 10-million-baht investment in the system. After the official launch, Aerothai will charge airlines a fee to offset expenses in training staff and maintaining the system, which now caters to more than 30 airlines.

Mr Priti said once Bobcat was up and running Thailand would be able to position itself as the region’s aviation hub.

An Aerothai specialist in charge of the BOBCAT project said flying to Europe via Afghanistan was the shortest and safest route from South and Southeast Asia in terms of weather patterns.

The BOBCAT system, headquartered at Aerothai in Bangkok, would save up to 12 million kilogrammes of jet fuel per year.

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