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Visa waiver brings surge in China flights

Visa waiver brings surge in China flights

The number of flights between Thailand and China has surged to 55,000 over the past eight months following the signing of a mutual visa exemption agreement between the two countries, according to the Ministry of Transport.

From October last year to May, there were 55,433 flights, marking a 213% increase compared to the same period the previous year, Deputy Transport Minister Surapong Piyachote announced on Saturday.

The ministry anticipates 86,150 flights will operate between the two countries by the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

Currently, flights from China serve several Thai airports, including Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Samui, and Krabi. Notably, there has been a significant increase in flights to and from economic hubs like Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province. Over the past eight months, there were 5,896 flights to and from Chengdu, with the number expected to reach 8,850 by year-end.

Mr. Surapong stated that he had requested Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai) to expand its capacity to manage the increased flight volumes. Aerothai is working to enhance air traffic service efficiency by implementing new parallel routes, upgrading technology systems, and improving airspace structure and management guidelines.

Plans include a new air traffic management system and the installation of systems to enhance capacity and efficiency through air traffic flow management (ATFM) practices. The goal is to handle about 2 million flights by 2038, focusing on personnel training, route adjustments, airspace design, and establishing off-site backup air traffic management.

Aerothai president Nopasit Chakpitak mentioned that the company has initiated a project to develop U-tapao Airport and the Eastern Aviation City in its initial phase. This phase primarily targets air cargo transport from the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), especially flights from China, and aims to position the airport as a future aircraft maintenance hub, fostering business development in tourism, logistics, and aviation sectors.

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