Chiang Mai Expands Airport

The northern city's airport is embarking on an upgrade to cope with surging traffic demand, particularly from China, whose citizens have been flocking to the northern Thai city


Jan. 23--CHIANG MAI -- The northern city's airport is embarking on an upgrade to cope with surging traffic demand, particularly from China, whose citizens have been flocking to the northern Thai city.

The upgrade, estimated to cost just over 100 million baht, includes adding an eighth apron for large aircraft, expanding the international arrival hall and domestic departure hall, improving toilets and creating an Otop centre.

The work is expected to be carried out this year as the airport plans to de-bottleneck its facility to deal with rising passenger and aircraft traffic, said Lukchai Chaleoyprach, the airport's general manager.

The airport also plans to extend its operating hours around the clock, up from 6am to midnight now, especially to accommodate charter flights to and from China after midnight, starting in April.

Air traffic through Chiang Mai has been leaping since 2010, with passenger throughput at 5.46 million last year, up by 21.67%, and a projection of 6.2 million this year, Mr Lukchai told the Bangkok Post.

The increase in traffic through Chiang Mai airport has been driven by low-cost carriers routing more flights through the city, as the former Lanna capital continues to be a favourite destination for tourists.

International arrivals have risen, including from China where they jumped three-fold last year, mostly due to the hype generated by Lost in Thailand, a low-budget comedy film shot mostly in Chiang Mai and other locations in the country to become China's highest-grossing film at 6 billion baht.

Eight airlines operate domestic flights through Chiang Mai with 14 routes, and 19 carriers have international flights through the city with 18 routes.

Chiang Mai airport is connected with Chinese cities on 10 routes.

The current upgrade is meant to address specific constraints that emerge during peak hours.

After the upgrade, the international arrival hall's space will be increased to 3,000 square metres from 1,000 sq m, while the domestic departure hall will jump to 3,500 sq m from 1,000 sq m.

Copyright 2014 - Bangkok Post, Thailand

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