AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes has urged Thai authorities to dedicate Don Mueang Airport as a hub for low-cost carriers (LCCs).
According to Tony Fernandes, Airport of Thailand airport tax is too high. Mr Fernandes renewed his call for Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) to establish a terminal devoted to no-frills airlines in Bangkok, complete with lower operating charges than at the main terminal.
Building an LCC terminal at Suvarnabhumi would take time. Mr Fernandes said turning Don Mueang into a base for budget carriers offered a quick solution that would help Thailand woo back foreign tourists whose numbers have plunged as a result of the deadly civil unrest in the capital.
“Maybe now is the chance to do something quick, by turning Don Mueang into a low-cost airport,” Mr Fernandes told the Bangkok Post.
The leader of Asia's largest budget airline has said the failure of Thai authorities to set up such a terminal has hampered the growth of the country's tourism industry.
AirAsia is giving away 10,000 free airline seats, costing at least 10 million baht, to help resuscitate the Thai tourism industry battered by political turmoil.
The give-away is the first of a series of aggressive campaigns the no-frills carrier intends to stage over the next two months to woo back international tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will subsidise the tickets in exchange for a firm commitment from the airline to bring in a set number of tourists.
Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia, said the need was two or three times greater than for a similar scheme that the airline and the TAT used two years ago after yellow-shirt protesters closed Bangkok’s two airports in late 2008.
In that case, the TAT extended 30 million baht to the airline to cover advertising and subsidising the air tickets.