Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bangkok Airways keen on running small airports

Bangkok Airways remains keen on assuming the management of 28 provincial airports run by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) after years of futile overtures.
Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, the airline's founder and chief executive, has reaffirmed his interest in response to a plan, announced recently by DCA's new chief, inviting private companies to manage the airports.
"We have always been interested in taking over the management of those airports," said Dr Prasert.
"Our position has not changed over the years as governments comes and go."
Under a plan outlined by DCA director Somchai Chanrod last month, the state agency would improve and maintain provincial airport infrastructure, while businesses would be encouraged to handle management and invest in operating systems.
Mr Somchai said the new approach was more realistic than previous policies that envisioned the private sector shouldering all the costs involved in improving, maintaining and operating the airports.
He likened the approach to having the government build roads while the private sector operated the buses that use the roads to serve the people.
Most of the airports operated by the DCA are derelict and have been ignored by airlines due to a lack of passenger traffic.
The department says that only five of the 28 provincial airports, including Krabi, Udon Thani and Khon Kaen, generated revenue in the fiscal year to last Sept 30, amounting to about 200 million baht.
Over the years, Dr Prasert has expressed his company's readiness to assume all the costs, potentially billions of baht, to renovate the airports and restore them to good working order.
Second, Bangkok Airways would ensure there all of the airports were handling commercial flights within two years of it assuming management.
Airports of Thailand Plc, the state-controlled airport entity that runs the country's six key airports including Suvarnabhumi, is interested in managing a couple of airports under DCA control with good traffic, such as Krabi.

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