Thai Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob has denied reports that Airports of Thailand is considering shutting Mae Fah Luang – Chiang Rai International Airport and Hat Yai Airport in the south.
According to reports yesterday, Oct. 28, AoT was considering closing both airports. In Hat Yai’s case, AoT was said to be wanting to consolidate flights through Phuket as flight and passenger numbers are declining. The why on Chiang Rai Airport, however, is completely unknown as figures show that passenger numbers and flights through the airport remain healthy, having doubled in the last four years.
Chidchob is reported as saying that reports that the airports were being considered for closure were a “misunderstanding,” using a phrase well-loved by Chiang Mai transport providers. How the “misunderstanding” came about was not explained.
Not surprisingly, the news that the Chiang Rai Airport was on the possible chopping block was not well received in the northern city with civic groups, including the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce condemning the idea.
At the same time as dismissing the reports, Minister Chidchob also announced that AoT would be halving landing fees at AoT managed airports – Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hat Yai for charter flights. The move is reported to be a way to encourage additional tourism in the kingdom.