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Transport Ministry says swift tourism recovery has led to higher airfares

Flickr/Andrey Bogdanov

Thailand’s Acting Transport Minister says a quicker-than-expected recovery in the tourism sector is behind the high cost of flying within Thailand. Atirat Ratanasate was responding to a request from caretaker PM Prayut Chan-o-cha that his ministry investigate the issue of costly airfares. The PM in turn was responding to complaints from both Thai and foreign passengers about the higher-than-pre-2019 airfares.

Airfares have been demonstrably higher for foreign flights into Thailand – 50-100% increase in many cases – and the same international aviation issues are at play in the Thai domestic market as well.

According to a Nation Thailand report, Atirat says a surge in both domestic and international passengers has created a significant gap between supply and demand. Since re-opening international borders in November 2021, Thailand has welcomed an average of 140,000 visitors a day. In addition, there has been a surge in the number of domestic tourists taking internal flights as the pandemic eased.

As the aviation industry is only getting back on its feet after being hammered by the pandemic, it has struggled to meet demand. This has led to more expensive airfares, with Atirat explaining that this is normal in a “sellers’ market”. The acting minister is advising would-be travellers to book their flights well in advance, instead of relying on last-minute bookings.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand reports that over 82% of flight tickets between Bangkok and Phuket are priced below 2,500 baht. This includes tickets booked for travel during holiday periods and tickets bought last-minute.

The CAAT points to 5 factors that have led to more expensive airfares…

• Insufficient ground handling services at Suvarnabhumi
• Inefficient slot allocation
• An insufficient number of flights to meet demand
• Insufficient plane-maintenance services
• A limited number of flights to certain destinations

Atirat says his ministry is working with the CAAT and other relevant bodies to keep airfares “reasonable”. As part of these efforts, airlines are being allowed to import additional aircraft and ground services at Suvarnabhumi are being improved.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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