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Aviation in Thailand

Air Traffic Statistics in Thailand

Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited publishes a monthly report of air traffic movements through the airports under its administration.  These include Suvarnabhumi (BKK), Don Mueang (DMK), Chiang Mai (CNX), Hadyai (HDY), Phuket (HKT) and Chiang Rai (CEI), and the figures show aircraft movements and passenger (both domestic and international), freight and mail figures.  AOT statistics can be viewed at this website: http://aot.listedcompany.com/transport.html

Thailand’s Introduction to Aviation
Thailand has a century  long history in the field of aviation,  starting in 1911 when the first demonstration flight took off from the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. In 1914 the first flight took off from the new air field at Don Mueang, and from then the importance of aviation was firmly established in Thailand. By the end of the 1920’s besides Bangkok International Airport Don Mueang there were airports with customs facilities in Chiang Mai, Songkhla and Ubol, with numerous smaller landing fields throughout the country. Don Mueang Airport served  Bangkok well for almost a century, but in order to meet the growing demand for air transportation even larger facilities were needed, and in 2006 Bangkok welcomed the opening of Suvarnabhumi International Airport as the next step to becoming the leading aviation hub of the region.  With the opening of Suvarnabhumi as Bangkok International Airport it was assigned the code BKK, formerly assigned to Don Mueang Airport which was then closed.  In 2007 Don Mueang Airport reopened with the new code DMK, serving mainly low cost carriers with domestic and regional flights, and by 2015 DMK was the world's largest low cost carrier airport.

Thai Ministry of Transport
Aviation in Thailand was, until 2015, administered by the Department of Civil Aviation under the Ministry of Transport.  In October 2015 the Department of Civil Aviation was replaced by two separate authoriteis, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand to conduct regulatory oversight, and the Department of Airports to operate airports formerly operated by the Department of Civil Aviation.  The functions concerning search, rescue and aircraft accident investigation, formerly under the responsibility of the Department of Civil Aviation, were transferred to the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport.  Aviation related state enterprises in Thailand under the Ministry of Transport include Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited and Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.

Thai Civil Aviation Board (CAB)
 The CAB was established by the Air Navigation Act B.E. 2497 (1954) with the Minister of Transport as Ex officio Chairman, and one Vice Chairman and not more than seven board members appointed by the Cabinet.  Its duties and responsibilities include to take consultation and give advice to  the Minister of Transport on matters of civil aviation, to issue regulations in compliance with the provisions of the Air Navigation Act and to approve, with the consent of the Minister, the rates of fare and freight of transport aircraft and the rates of air navigation facilities service charges.

Civil Aviation Auhority of Thailand (CAAT)

The CAAT was established as a State agency by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand Emergency Decree B.E. 2558 (2015) to regulate and develop civil aviation activities in aspects of safety, environmental protection, and security and to promote and develop air transport system networks, aviation industry and civil aviation activities to achieve efficiency and International Standards.  It also has the duty to inspect and monitor the aviation industry and civil aviation activities to comply with laws, rules, procedures and International Standards.  The CAAT acts as the secretariat for the Thai Civil Aviation Board and gives recommendations on policy to the Board and to the Minister on the issuance of ministerial regulations under the law on air navigation.

Thai Department of Airports
The Department of Airports manages the 28 domestic airports formerly operated by the Department of Aviation, and is responsible for ensuring the safety, security and quality of airports under its jurisdiction, and coordinating and cooperating with domestic and international organizations concerned with aviation. 

Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Limited
In 1948 ARINC of the United States of America, IAL of the United Kingdom, together with airline operators formed the Aeronautical Radio of Siam Limited (AEROSIAM) to provide air traffic control and aeronautical communication services for airline operations.  In 1963 the Thai Government acquired approximately 90% of the Company’s share capital in the form of A-Shares, thereby changing the company’s status to that of a State Enterprise.  The company was renamed Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Limited (Aerothai), and the remaining share capital was converted to B-Shares, which are currently held by more than 80 airlines, the majority  of whom are members of BAR.  

Aerothai provides air traffic control services and aeronautical telecommunication services to all airports, both international and domestic, throughout Thailand, and is working regionally to improve coordination and harmonization between Air Navigation Service Providers in South East Asia.  Its responsibilities include Air Traffic Management (ATM) within the Bangkok Flight Information Region (Bangkok FIR), Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) System/Services and Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) and Aeronautical Charts.  Its current modernization of CNS/ATM systems aims to provide Thailand with air navigation service systems with competitive capacity based on current global standards and changes in aviation technology and to reduce current performance limitations and obstacles in order to increase capacity to support more flights, improve air navigation service efficiency and safety, and increase its role as a regional hub for aviation and air navigation.

Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT)
In 1979 a State Enterprise was established under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport, known as Airports Authority of Thailand (AAT).  Under the Thai Government policy of privatization, in 2002 AAT was registered as a public company and renamed Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) with the Thai Government holding 70% of its stock.   With the opening of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in 2006, AOT now has responsibility for managing, operating and developing six airports which serve both international and domestic traffic.  AOT’s main revenue derives from (a) aeronautical revenue consisting of landing charge, parking charge, passenger service charge and aircraft service charge, and (b) non-aeronautical revenue consisting of concession revenue, office and real property rents and service revenues.

Thailand’s Airports
Currently Thailand has ten airports serving both international and domestic traffic plus a further 26 domestic airports.  Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) operates Suvarnabhumi International and Don Mueang International Airports in Bangkok, plus international airports at Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Had Yai and Phuket.  The Royal Thai Navy administers the U-Tapao Pattaya International Airport, and Bangkok Airways owns and operates the international airport at Koh Samui, in addition to the domestic airport in Sukhothai.  The Department of Airports manages 28  airports throughout Thailand, mainly handling domestic traffic, although two have limited international traffic.  The six AOT owned airports handle most international traffic and have a combined design capacity of 96.6 million passengers per year, although in 2016 they actually handled 120 million passengers and are curently undergoing urgently needed expansion, especially at Suvarnabhumi (BKK), Phuket (HKT) and Don Mueang (DMK) Airports.

Airline Cargo Business Association  (ACBA)
ACBA was registered in September 2002 by a group of airlines in Bangkok, although it traces its roots to the ACP Thailand which was informally established in 1993 by a group of interline cargo managers in Thailand.  Its objective is to support the airfreight industry in Thailand, and it coordinates with BAR on matters concerning freight activities and development of the customs free zone at Suvarnabhumi International Airport BKK.

Airport Operators Committee (AOC)
AOC is a long established informal Committee with membership comprising airline station managers.  It assists its members with all aspects of airline airport operations and coordinates with the AOT on behalf of its members.  It also coordinates with BAR on activities concerning airport operations.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
ICAO, a specialized Agency of the United Nations, has its headquarters in Montreal, Canada.  It was established in 1944 and now has over 180 Contracting States.  Its mandate is the safe and orderly development of all aspects of international civil aeronautics.  It has seven regional offices, the Asia and Pacific Office being located in Bangkok, Thailand, where it was established in 1955.  The ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Programm (USOAP) was established in 1999 in order to "Conduct aviation safety oversight audits to identify deficiencies and encourge their resolution by States". 
During the course of an audit, ICAO may identify what is referred to as a ‘Significant Safety Concern’ with respect to the ability of the audited State to properly oversee its airlines (air operators); airports; aircraft; and/or air navigation services provider under its jurisdiction. This does not necessarily indicate a particular safety deficiency but, rather, indicates that the State is not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of all applicable ICAO Standards. Full technical details of the ICAO findings are made available to the State’s Civil Aviation Authority to guide rectification, as well as to all ICAO Member States to facilitate any actions that they may consider necessary to ensure safety. The audited State also undertakes to regularly report to ICAO progress on the correction of the safety concern. 

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

IATA is an international trade body, created some 60 years ago by  group of airlines.  Today, IATA represents over 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.  The IATA Head Office is in Montreal, Canada and the Executive Office is in Geneva, Switzerland.  The Regional Office for Asia Pacific is in Singapore, and there is a Country Office in Bangkok, Thailand.