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Fees axed at small airports

The Transport Ministry has waived landing and parking fees at 12 state-run provincial airports, most of them inactive, to encourage airlines to offer commercial services through them.

The waiver applies to Thai-registered carriers for airports operated by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in Chumphon, Tak, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phetchabun, Phrae, Pattani, Mae Sariang, Ranong, Roi Et, Loei, Mae Sot and Hua Hin.

Under the ministerial announcement signed by Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum, the waiver was meant to increase the utilisation of those airports and support tourism. The waiver is effective to March 23 next year.

Landing fees are based on the aircraft take-off weight, starting from 85 baht a tonne for the first 50 tonnes, while parking charges are calculated from aircraft weight and are free for the first three hours with a fee of 650 baht after for the first 50 tonnes.

The 12 airports are among 28 DCA-operated facilities nationwide that have been singled out as having potential to create air traffic because they are already in areas visited by tourists.

Most of these airports, relatively small in size with maximum capability limited to handling Boeing B737 jets or ATR72 turboprops, have been operating at losses due to low air traffic.

In the five-month period to February this year, the airports suffered a combined loss of 22 million baht, following the trend that dates back many years.

Many of these airports came into existence because of lobbying by politicians representing those locations with little thought to determining whether real demand could be established.

Only a handful of DCA-operated airports including Krabi and Nakhon Si Thammarat have regular commercial flights and are not covered by fee waivers.

The DCA in the past has declined offers from Bangkok Airways to take over the management of the facilities and make them commercially viable operations.

Source: Bangkok Post

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