The Advance Passenger Processing System (APPS) is being upgraded to check incoming air passengers for their health documentation ahead of their arrival as the country is set to reopen to international tourism starting next month, according to the Airports of Thailand (AoT).
AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn told a talk show on Tuesday a similar system has been in place to single out people with criminal records as a means of heightening border security.
The APPS allows customs officials, airport and airline staff and immigration police to obtain the profiles of passengers from their countries of origin. They are able to check if passengers are blacklisted or banned from leaving a country.
Authorities share passenger information and passengers whose profiles are clean will be able to pass immigration checks faster, according to the AoT.
Now, the system is being used to run checks on incoming passengers for their health certification and whether they meet vaccination requirements.
The APPS meets global standards in its capability to verify the authenticity of vaccination certificates.
Mr Sirismatthakarn said the system will ramp up the health screening of international arrivals and reinforce its safeguards against the spread of COVID-19 as the country gradually reopens its borders and restores tourism.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on airports and related businesses. The AoT has permitted shops occupying commercial space at airports, which suffered badly from the slump, to defer rental payments.
The AoT expects passenger traffic across six airports it supervises nationwide to pick up from next month when key tourist destinations open their doors again.
Combined passenger volume at the six airports — Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang in Chiang Rai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang — has dropped dramatically to 15,000 a day from 400,000 in the pre-Covid period, Mr Sirismatthakarn said.
Meanwhile, Don Mueang airport, the country’s hub for low-cost carriers, has seen a slow return of scheduled passenger flights. On 1st September when COVID-19 restrictions were eased, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air resumed a combined 30 flights and two days later they were rejoined by Thai AirAsia flights.
Since then, flights have increased to about 70 per day with 4,000 passengers passing through the airport daily during weekdays and up to 6,000 a day on weekends, said Sampan Kutranont, director of Don Mueang airport.
He said the airport’s western runway will be closed around the clock for resurfacing work for 90 days. It is expected the work, costing 417 million baht, will begin next month.