International airlines have returned as many as 80% of their airport slots at Thailand’s six international airports between October 31 and March 26 next year, indicating their uncertainty over a recovery in the aviation sector, according to Nitinai Sirisamatthakarn, the managing director of Airports of Thailand (AOT) Public Company.
AOT operates Suvarnabhumi, Don Muaeng, Phuket, Hat Yai, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang international airports.
He disclosed that the lowest point for the aviation industry in Thailand was from July to September, this year, after the Thai government suspended all regular flights as a precautionary measure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, during which average daily arrivals at the six international airports was only 50 passengers.
The situation has improved since Thailand eased travel restrictions in October this year, with an average of 30,000 arrivals a day.
Airlines have given up 100% of their slots at Don Muaeng airport and about 70% of those at Suvarnabhumi, said Nitinai.
AOT suffered 11 billion baht in operational losses in the first nine months of this year and an estimated 10 billion baht for the whole year, he said, adding that business over the next two years will, however, gradually recover.
Penyos Pibulsongkhram, director of commercial affairs for the Vietjet airline, said that the aviation industry is still in crisis, although the situation is improving.
Airport slots represent permission granted to an airline by the owner of an airport to use the airport’s facilities for landing and take-off.