Mr Nitinai made the bold announcement during an inspection of Phuket airport today (June 30).
Mr Nitinai’s visit was to follow up on the preparation of the arrival process and international departures before opening to tourists under the Phuket Sandbox scheme, which allows vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country through Phuket from tomorrow.
Mr Nitinai explained that the reopening of flights to all six airports operated by AoT required two parts: “The first part is to restore the potential from the former volume of tourism now that we have closed for more than a year; the second part is to move forward with the New Normal,” he said.
In addition to Phuket airport, AoT also operates Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in Bangkok, Chiang Mai International Airport and Chiang Rai airport, as well as Hat Yai International Airport.
“Regarding the potential return of tourists, it is not a concern because before closing the country in total through all six airports we could accommodate more than 160 million passengers a year. Phuket Airport alone was supporting 12mn passengers, and could support 16mn people, so the potential return shouldn’t be a concern. We are ready, the equipment, machinery, buildings and personnel. Quality has always been guaranteed,” he said.
“As for the New Normal, AoT will use technology to reduce exposure [to infection] and overall we are ready. Phuket Airport has worked hard regarding the screening of people entering the airport. AoT as the host has worked with many agencies to integrate as a Thailand team and has confidence in the public health system. Phuket’s vaccination efforts have come first and foremost as it is a pilot province, and in public health it is believed that Phuket should be able to handle it,” Mr Nitinai said.
Phuket Airport General Manager Thanee Chuangchoo joined the tour of the airport facilities today.
“On July 1, there will be five flights from foreign countries, about 440 passengers, all foreigners because Phuket Sandbox has been selected to receive direct flights to Phuket,” he said.
“The people of Phuket have been waiting for this project for quite some time until the government approved it. We need to make this project go forward 100%, of course, as if the project is successful. the economy will improve,” he added.
“Now Thai tourists are gradually coming to visit Phuket to join the Phuket Sandbox project. As far as I have been informed from the booking of plane tickets from the airlines in July, there will be approximately 12,000 passengers throughout the month. There will be more and more flights. Passengers will keep coming in,” Mr Thanee said.
“We can confirm that Phuket airport has strict measures. We are prepared 100% as Phuket airport is a model for all airports [in Thailand], and airports around the world have been interested in Phuket airport. Safety nad confidence, therefore, must be achieved,” Mr thanee concluded.