Thailand installs laser equipment to check passengers for SARS
Thailand denied suggestions that it could be susceptible
to a second round of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic.
Responding to fears that Thailand could see more SARS
cases following the recent death of a woman from SARS in China, Dr. Charal
Trinvuthipong, Director-General of the Department of Disease Control, noted
that Thailand had never been home to an epidemic of the virus.
Dr. Charal stressed that the Ministry of Public Health
was continuing to take the situation seriously, and was closely inspecting
all passengers arriving from Beijing. In addition, the ministry is
installing laser thermometers to check temperatures of passengers from
“I urge the public to have confidence in the measures
drawn up by the Ministry of Public Health, which has consistently carried
out its role. Don’t be overly concerned about the news. If the situation
changes, the Ministry of Public Health will inform the public
immediately,” he said. (TNA)
to hike landing fees
On April 24, in a move that is bound to cause disquiet
among airline operators, the Airport of Thailand Public Co. Ltd. said that
it would introduced a 20% increase in landing fees for domestic and
international flights in October in order to generate revenue for the
construction of Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi Airport. Airline companies
currently pay average landing fees of 40,000 baht per aircraft, depending on
the weight of the plane.
Acting President of Airport of Thailand Public Co. Ltd.
Bancha Pattanaporn also revealed that next year would see a rise in
passenger tax from 500 baht to 700 baht for international passengers and
from 50 baht to 100 baht for domestic passengers. Explaining what is bound
to be an unpopular decision, he said that the authority desperately needed
to generate extra revenue to invest in the construction of Bangkok’s new
Suvarnabhumi Airport, as well as repay loans of around 70 billion baht to
the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
He expressed hope that by raising fees, the authority
would generate additional annual income of at least 700 million, while
shrugging off suggestions that the rise would blunt Thailand’s competitive
edge, noting that Thailand’s fees remained lower than nearly every country
in the region, and that no adjustments had been made for the past seven
Meanwhile, in what will be hailed as a positive
development for Thailand’s aviation industry, Lt. Suthara Huangsuwann,
Chief of the Chiangmai Airport, said that plans to turn the airport into a
regional aviation center were now 33% complete. Under the plans, the airport
is being developed to cope with a rise in passenger numbers from 300 to 900
per day by the year 2006, as well as large aircraft such as Boeing 747’s
on direct flights from Europe. It is hoped that the airport will eventually
see an annual 38% increase in international passenger numbers, with 1.8
million foreign arrivals per year.
In the second phase of development, the airport’s
runways will be extended to 3,400 meters, pending the announcement of an
environmental impact assessment. Progress on the airport’s transformation
into a regional aviation hub will be measured in terms of passenger numbers
and aircraft arrivals.
Upgrading the airport will form only one part of the
province’s development, which will also see adjustments to tourist
attractions in order to pull in more visitor numbers. Over the past six
months, the Chiangmai Airport has serviced 9,869 commercial flights, up
7.76% on the same period in 2003, with 1,376,468 passengers, an increase of
18.34%. It has also seen the export of 12,510 tons of goods, representing a
3.19% rise from the previous year. (TNA)
AirAsia heads for Macau
Flights to Commence June 2004
AirAsia is set to begin services to Macau from its hub in
Bangkok International Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
respectively. The Bangkok - Macau flights will commence on June 15, and will
be operated by AirAsia’s operation in Thailand.
Macau will be AirAsia’s 3rd international destination
out of Thailand, after Singapore and Malaysia. AirAsia will offer daily
flights from 999 baht one way for the new Bangkok-Macau service.
“We recognize the tremendous potential in Macau as a
tourist center and with the existing infrastructure and lower operational
costs, AirAsia’s low fare provides a winning formula for the Bangkok-Macau
route. We’re excited to commence services to Macau and we are confident
that our low fares will boost tourism and bring a brand new travel
experience to the people of Macau and the neighboring region,” said Tony
Fernandes, group chief executive officer, AirAsia.
Earlier this year, AirAsia’s joint venture with Shin
Corp in Thailand has spurred many people in Thailand to travel domestically
and internationally. The airline has carried over 200,000 guests since
February. AirAsia Thai operations presently offers daily flights to Phuket,
Hat Yai, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani (Vientiane, Laos), Chiang Rai,
Nakhon Ratchasima, Singapore, Johor Bahru, and Kuala Lumpur from Bangkok
International Airport. The airline will commence a third Malaysian flight to
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah from June 1st onwards.