Budget Airlines Keep Thai Airports Growing

February 6, 2015

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Air traffic at Thailand's six main airports run by Airports of Thailand climbed to a record last year, boosted by aggressive expansion at budget airlines that were untroubled by a political crisis and a shortage of airport capacity.

Total passenger numbers rose 2.5 percent to 90.53 million in 2014, with low-cost carriers - which focus primarily on domestic travel - accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total, up from less than 10 percent a decade ago.

Budget airlines such as Thai AirAsia and Nok Airlines are building up fleets and stepping up fare competition, which has encouraged domestic travel. Business was also buoyed by foreign visitors avoiding Bangkok's political troubles and heading instead to the provinces.

Domestic traffic at AOT's airports grew at a brisk 16 percent pace last year, but international traffic dipped 5.6 percent.

AOT plans to expand its capacity at its three largest airports by an average of 53 percent over the next four years to ease capacity bottlenecks and reap the rise in traffic.