Region VII: Middle East/Asia (MID)

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Thailand's Brief Business Jet Ban Highlights Importance of Industry Advocacy in Region

January 30, 2013

Earlier this month, expansion work temporarily closed three gates and their parking areas during a peak travel time at Phuket, Thailand, limiting operations there to 200 aircraft movements in 24 hours. To deal with the constraint, many airlines switched to larger airplanes, such as the Boeing 747, and the airport excluded smaller ones. It did not issue arrival, departure or parking slots to business jets for 16 days.

“In view of limited capacity, our priority is to serve the majority of airline passengers,” Phuket International Airport general manager Prathuang Sornkhom told the Bangkok Post about the ban, which ended Jan. 3.

This is another example of why NBAA’s two years of work with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group is so important, said Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of safety, security, operations & regulation. Established in 1989, APEC supports sustainable economic growth and prosperity among its 21 member nations that circle the Pacific Ocean. Focusing on trade and economic issues, APEC understands the airlines’ contribution to each of their economies, said Carr, “but business aviation is a relatively new topic for them, so we should not expect rapid changes until they fully understand its contributions.”

In the Bangkok Post, Jaiyavat Navaraj, the executive chairman of Mjet, operator of Thailand’s largest business jet terminal, reinforced this reality before the ban took effect on short notice. Estimating the loss at 50 business jet flights, he said each of them would cost the Phuket economy a half-million baht (nearly $17,000 US), adding his belief that proper management would enable the airport to accommodate these aircraft movements “even during the stressed period.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation has a seat at the APEC table, and at its request, NBAA is “providing the insights needed to make reasonable and effective access policy that affects our community,” said Carr.

NBAA will continue its advocacy efforts with Pacific Rim policymakers and others at the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE), which will be held from April 16 to 18 at Hongqiao Airport, in Shanghai, China.