After a number of false starts, Hua Hin looks set to finally benefit from a fully functioning international airport.
On Wednesday (7 April), plans were unveiled for Hua Hin Airport to begin flights to a number of overseas destinations.
The flights will be to destinations located within a 6 or 7 hour radius of Hua Hin to countries such as China, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and the Middle East.
The aim is to have 2 international flights per day operating in 2022 and at least 5 international flights per day by 2025.
But before then, and dependent on COVID-19 restrictions, international charter flights from Hua Hin are likely to begin before the end of 2021, with China well represented, as well as Hong Kong and Singapore, it was announced.
The ambitious plans for Hua Hin airport, dubbed the ‘Phoenix-Plan’ are part of an agreement with the Departments of Airport and the Phoenix Group, which has operations in Hong Kong and Thailand and which specialises in the management of small and regional airports.
Provincial Governor Dr Pullop Singhaseni called the ‘Phoenix-Plan’ “the single most important initiative for Hua Hin International Airport since its inception more than 30 years ago”.
“The timing of this announcement could not be better, as the world awakens from the COVID pandemic and Thailand re-opens for business and tourism”, said Udon Olsson, Chairman of Phoenix Aviation Thailand Limited.
“The Phoenix-Plan is a private sector initiative fully funded by the Phoenix Group”, said John Laroche, CEO of Phoenix Aviation International Limited.
“The Phoenix-Plan will not only have a major impact on Hua Hin Airport but also the city of Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi”, Mr Laroche added.
Hua Hin currently welcomes around 14 million visitors annually, but almost all arrive by road.
The target is to have 100,000 passengers arriving at the airport in 2022 and one million arrivals by 2025.
The Phoenix-Plan will also see the airport become a fundamental part of the community and aims to develop relationships with local businesses and service providers, as well as providing a huge boost to the local economy.
Following recent reports of an infrastructure upgrade at the airport, Mr Laroche confirmed that Hua Hin Airport can already accommodate international flights, with its runway suitable for A330 and 737 aircraft.
However, the airport is currently unable to accept domestic and international flights at the same time but does have the capacity to handle two flights per hour.
While the airport will continue to service domestic flights, international flights direct to Hua Hin will become the focus, Mr Laroche said.
The flight to Kuala Lumpur is also due to resume once COVID-19 restrictions have been eased.