Yala to open new airport in April

Betong Airport in Yala will open in April. (Photo: Betong International Airport)
Betong Airport in Yala will open in April. (Photo: Betong International Airport)

The new Betong Airport in the southernmost province of Yala is slated to open in April, with Nok Air expected to be the first airline to launch daily flights to and from Bangkok when it opens, the airport’s acting director, Duangporn Suvanmanee, said on Tuesday.

Betong Airport, the 29th airport operated by the Department of Airports, was supposed to open in December, but the government decided to delay the opening to next month.

Ms Duangporn said the department has approved Nok Air’s request to launch services to Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport.

As the budget carrier is planning to use a 64-seat aircraft to serve the one hour and 50-minute flight, the department is confident it will be able to fill 75% of the seats for the first six months, she said.

In addition to Nok Air, Bangkok Airways also has plans to launch flights to Betong from Phuket and Hat Yai.

The airline is considering to operate six flights to Hat Yai per week throughout the cooler, “winter” period, starting in October. The flights would cut down travel times between the cities to just one hour, down from 4-5 hours by road at present.

Once it opens, the new airport is expected to give the province’s tourism and hospitality industries a boost, Ms Duangporn said, adding the airport has already hired the staff required and its landing system had been inspected and certified by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

Betong Airport is located some 12 kilometres from downtown Betong. The airport will only be able to serve smaller aircraft with 70-80 passengers, as it only has a 1,800-metre runway.