Chiang Mai Airport’s 24 hours upgrade takes off to meet ‘soaring’ Chinese demand

Photo via Chiang Mai International Airport.

The Airports of Thailand (AOT) is preparing to take flight as Chiang Mai International Airport gears up for 24/7 operations starting November 1, all in response to the soaring demand from Chinese visitors.

The Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson, Chai Watcharong, said today that the PM and Finance Minister, Srrettha Thavisin, wants to extend Chiang Mai Airport’s operating hours, from the previous 18 hours from 6am to 12am, to 24 hours.

According to Chai, Chiang Mai province is the main destination for Chinese visitors, and the tourists have requested extended hours at the airport. The 61 year old PM thought it was reasonable for the airport to open for 24 hours to go along with the latest free visa measures introduced for Chinese tourists.

Chai also reported that visitors from China, Japan and South Korea wanted the airports to offer more flights.

In response to the PM’s initiative, AOT director Keerati Kitmanawat issued an announcement stating that Chiang Mai Airport will offer 24-hour domestic and international flights from November 1 this year.

In addition to the extension of operating hours, Chiang Mai Airport is also undergoing a terminal expansion plan, which is expected to be completed by 2027. AOT plans to expand the airport’s international terminal with a budget of 6 billion baht.

The project is now in the design phase. After three years of construction, the airport will be able to handle 12 million travellers, up from the current capacity of six million.

The temporary free visa measure was officially announced on September 13. The visa fee will be waived from September 25 this year to February 29, 2024, not only for Chinese tourists but also for Kazakhstani visitors. However, tourists from Kazakhstan are expected to be the main focus for the present due to the declining number of Chinese visitors to Thailand.

Some Chinese nationals opted for cheaper domestic trips due to the economic crisis and concerns about their safety in Thailand. Chinese nationals were concerned that illegal Chinese business operators in Thailand would target them for extortion.

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