Published on July 20, 2007
Some carriers have pulled flights. Swiss International Airline has cut its flights between Bangkok and Switzerland from seven per week to six. Lufthansa of Germany has reduced service between Thailand and Germany and increased flights to Shanghai in China instead, said BAR president Brian Sinclair Thomson.
Many airlines are not happy with things at Suvarnabhumi.
Airports of Thailand (AOT) has not yet started construction of a planned midfield terminal to increase passenger-handling capacity. The operator has also shelved other expansion plans at the airport.
AOT has, however, hiked its airport parking, airport landing and ground service fees by 35 per cent within 20 months.
Moreover, the time for connecting flights using Suvarnabhumi and Don Meuang Airport is said to be longer than in the past, which does not facilitate travellers who need to transfer between the airports.
"I believe that many airlines will revise their five-year business plans due to the limitation of services at Suvarnabhumi Airport," Thomson said.
More airlines are expected to withdraw or downsize their operations in Thailand and head to other countries.
"China, India and Vietnam are the places airlines want to go to due to greater capacity," he said.
Airports in Vietnam are being developed that can accommodate up to 100 million passengers, while a large number of airports in China are scheduled to open over the next 15 years.
India is also expanding its New Delhi Airport in preparation for the explosion in aviation traffic expected in the next decade.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport has been waiving charges in order to attract carriers.
Thailand stands to lose aviation competitiveness because of these internal factors.
"If the country wants to become an aviation hub, authorities must look for further steps by preparing more capacity," Thomson said. "Airlines can't wait for the government to do so as they need to grow."
BAR plans to discuss the issue with AOT and the Transport Ministry soon.
Phornsiri Manoharn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said her agency was still optimistic that the economy will recover over the rest of the year and that its target of 14.8 million international arrivals and Bt547 billion in revenue is achievable.
The domestic tourism target is 82 million trips and revenues of Bt377 billion.
TAT projects 15.7 international tourists next year, up 6 per cent, with tourism revenues of Bt600 billion. The domestic tourism target for 2008 is 83 million trips, up 1.2 per cent, and revenues of Bt385 billion.
TAT has had to reintroduce the Amazing Thailand campaign - so successful in 1989-1999 - as the main theme for next year.
The authority prefers to attract more quality tourists from around the world - such as wedding couples, families and business travellers - instead of focusing on the volume of visitors, by offering better products and services such as boutique hotels and healthcare packages.