AOT forges ahead with major airport development to meet post-Covid-19 air travel resurgence

The Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT) marked its 41st Anniversary on 1 July 2020 with a commitment to continue with its extensive airport development to support the post-Covid-19 recovery of air travel demand.

AOT President Dr.Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said development of all six AOT-operated airports remain largely on course regardless of the sharp decline in air traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "Our airport expansion and modernization are moving forward steadily and sustainably so that when demand bounces back after the Covid-19 outbreak is over we will have the capacity to accommodate the needs," he asserted.

Overall aircraft movements through AOT airports in the eight months from October last year to May this year dropped 29.80% over the same period of the previous year to 425,900, 229,400 of which being international (down 30.20%) and 196,500 domestic (down 29.33%). Total passengers passing through the airports between October 2019 and May 2020 nosedived by 33.94% over the previous period to 64.20 million, breaking down into 37.24 million international (down 34.72%) and 26.96 million domestic (down 32.83%). The number of flights and passengers through AOT airports namely Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang International Airport, Chiang Mai International Airport, Mae Fah Luang - Chiang Rai International Airport, Phuket International Airport and Hat Yai International Airport, showed growth in the last three months of 2019. But the eruption of coronavirus in early 2020 which led the Thai government to impose measures to prevent the spread of the contagion including banning incoming commercial passenger flights temporarily has caused a plunge in air traffic. Aircraft movements and passenger traffic through AOT airports between 24 January and 31 May 2020 decreased by 55.28% and 66.32%, respectively.

Air freight through AOT airports showed similar contraction in the eight months to May 2020
but at a less steep degree than passenger traffic. Air cargo volumes fell 17.61% in the period to 825,665 tons, due to the increase of freight flights primarily in February - May 2020. This came

despite …
despite passenger flights had decreased considerably from an average of 6,500 movements per week to just 500 a week which caused the volume of cargo transported by passenger aircraft to a decrease by 74.22%. However, the air freight services increased by 127.22%, rising from 160 movements per week to 360 a week as airlines turned to focus on freight shipments to substitute incoming passenger traffic curtailed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT). But the rise in freight flights may partially offset the volume of air freight as more than 80% of shipments in the past were mainly carried by passenger flights.

In financial terms, AOT recorded total revenue of 28,898.11 million Baht in the six months as from 1 October 2019 to 31 March 2020, 27,476.80 million Baht of which were from sales or services, and 1,421.31 million Baht in other incomes. Expenses in the period were 15,173.34 million Baht plus income tax of 2,760.98 million Baht, resulting in a profit of 10,963.80 million Baht in the period.

Dr. Nitinai said the Suvarnabhumi Airport Development Project Phase II is progressing with
the construction of Satellite 1 (SAT-1) passenger terminal which has been completed by 88%.
At present, AOT has completed the structural work and is carrying out architecture, interior decoration, landscape works and the installation of baggage carousels, electrical, mechanical, sanitary and indoor Information Technology systems. However, the Covid-19 effects have delayed the commissioning test of operation readiness and opening of service, known as Operation Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT), for the SAT-1 terminal. The commissioning test of various operating systems such as the Automated People Mover (APM), baggage handling system, and aircraft parking management system is expected to be completed in April 2022. AOT now expects that flights and passengers will continue to recover to the 2019 level in October 2022. Therefore, the opening of SAT-1 terminal will be timed in accordance with passenger volumes in the post Covid-19 age.

At Don Mueang Airport, construction of a passenger service building, known as Service Hall,
in the parking area for tourists and is connected to the international passenger terminal 1 is projected to start operation in August 2020. With a floor space of 3,000 square metres, the Service Hall is set aside for tour group passengers to arrange their luggage before boarding which

Will …
will help reduce congestion within the international passenger terminal. Works on the 200-metre walkway to connect the Commuter Train System (Red Line) of Bang Sue - Rangsit Section, with the Don Mueang International Airport at the 7-storey car park building area, is also expected to be completed in August 2020, ahead of the inauguration of the system's service in 2021. Furthermore, there will be an upgrade of Terminal 1 to accommodate domestic passengers. The passenger terminal 3 will be rebuilt at the former unused terminal. Both of which are expected to be completed by 2024 and will restore the original capability of Don Mueang International Airport to handle at least 40 million passengers per year.

AOT's four other airports - Chiang Mai International Airport, Mae Fah Luang - Chiang Rai International Airport, Phuket International Airport and Hat Yai International Airport will continue to see their development plans proceeding according to the AOT's master plan from the aspects of service quality and safety standards. The development is to ensure that these airports can cater to demand when air travel needs return to normal and supporting a revival of robust economic growth.

Dr. Nitinai noted that in the following years AOT will continue to focus on providing clean,
safe and disease-free services in parallel with helping the society through the promotion of agricultural exports of Thailand. That is the path that AOT will take even the air travel demand caused by coronavirus would remain slows over the next two years. The air cargo is expected to rebound faster. Consequently, the Premium Perishable Lane (PPL) at Suvarnabhumi Airport, part of the project to establish a product quality inspection and certification centre before exporting (Certify Hub), will go a long way to help bringing income into Thailand.

Dr. Nitinai concluded that AOT is committed to conducting business with responsibility, adhering to the principles of good governance, taking care of society, communities and the environment so that AOT will grow steadily while creating sustainable value with the society.

Media Release No. 28/2020, 30 June, 2020
Corporate Communications Department, Airports of Thailand Plc
Tel: 0 2535 5240, 0 2535 4245 Fax: 0 2535 5216