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Thailand Surcharge Hits Flights

PASSENGERS travelling in and out Thailand now have to pay a surcharge of Bt15 per person per flight segment. The funds raised from the surcharge will be primarily used for improvements to the country’s aviation system as overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, such as upgraded safety standards. But the move has angered the head of a travel agents’ association.

The CAAT and the International Air Transport Association agreed on November 1 to implement the new charge, but it did not go into full effect until yesterday.

The extra fee is being added to air-ticket prices by IATA members, and the global aviation authority will also get a cut of the proceeds.

Currently, IATA oversees and supervises 265 aviation authorities representing 85 per cent of global aviation.

According to the Tourism Association of Thailand, the country is expected to receive more than 32 million international tourists this year, while more than six million Thais will travel overseas.

Based on the total passenger numbers from two flights per trip per person, the new surcharge should generate Bt1.1 billion per year.

Charoen Wangananont, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), expressed doubts about the new surcharge.

He also wondered why foreign organisations like IATA have the right to intervene in Thailand’s aviation system on such a big decision, saying it is not fair to make travellers into and out of this country to a fee that IATA benefits from.

“If the government wants to solve aviation problem or develops further projects, it should grant a special budget and let the Thai authority do it, not ask for money from passengers. And IATA should not be involved in this issue,” Charoen said.

He said aviation experts working at the CAAT should be paid by the Thai government, not by passengers.

In the third quarter, 8.2 million foreigners travelled to Thailand. China continued to be the main source market, with 2.4 million visitors during the three months. Arrivals from Europe came in at around 1.2 million, up 12 per cent from the third quarter last year, while there were 2.2 million visitors from Asean countries or up 14 per cent.

IATA said last week that global passenger traffic in September grew 7 per cent compared with the same month in 2015. This was the strongest year-over-year increase in seven months.

Capacity climbed 6.6 per cent.

European carriers saw September demand rise 5.2 per cent over September 2015.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ traffic rose 8.6 per cent in September compared with the year-ago period, although there are still signs of Asian travellers being put off by terrorism in Europe.

Middle East carriers had an 11.5-per-cent rise in demand in September compared with a year ago.

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