ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
AirAsia seeks Thai airport for budget hub
"Its international airport tax should be lowered from 750 baht to 250 baht (US$23 to $7)," Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia Group, said after opening the airline's Asean office in Jakarta.
Thailand should grab this opportunity to pursue this goal after facing troubles especially political demonstrations in recent years, he said. That will help boost its tourism industry by bringing in more visitors. Clearly, Thailand is one of the major vacation destinations for foreign tourists.
alaysia is an example. It has opened an airport specifically for low-cost carriers (LCCs) and it has gained recognition. Its international airport tax is 250 baht.
Having several airports dedicated solely to LCCs in the region will be more useful, he said. Bangkok can play up its geographic advantage in connecting to other parts of the region after the implementation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
Beyond Bangkok, the government should open up more provincial airports and make better commercial use of those such as Phuket, Chiang Mai and Udon Thani because they are in a strategic position to connect to neighbouring nations, Fernandes said.
The Asean market of 600 million consumers holds big potential for doing business. The region is AirAsia's core market, even though it has expanded rapidly into India and China.
The carrier is now training its sights back on the region after aviation liberalisation, especially low-profile cities.
The bloc should move towards unified civil aviation standards, he said. All members should work more closely to define its direction to improve its development from pilot and aviation licence standardisation.
Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, said Aseanshould create a single aviation body like the European Union did to look after the industry. AirAsia would take a leading role in forging cooperation among members. However in Thailand, the Civil Aviation Department under the Transport Ministry should enhance its role to be in line with the changing aviation industry under the AEC.
Thailand's tourism policies should all go in the same direction, he said. State agencies should work together more closely. For example, the government wants to promote the tourism industry, but its policies such as airport tax, club zoning and prohibitions on alcohol consumption are counterproductive.
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