THAILAND: Bangkok airports closure rippled through region

The total economic loss to Thailand – SE Asia’s second-largest economy – was estimated to amount to US$2.8 billion per day. The severing of air links with Thailand’s capital rippled through the region with airlines scrambling to reroute passengers and freight. Suvarnabhumi, a key air hub which handles 3 per cent of world air cargo […]


The total economic loss to Thailand – SE Asia’s second-largest economy – was estimated to amount to US$2.8 billion per day.

The severing of air links with Thailand’s capital rippled through the region with airlines scrambling to reroute passengers and freight. Suvarnabhumi, a key air hub which handles 3 per cent of world air cargo and 100,000 travellers a day, was closed for 13 days for air cargo and 16 days for passenger traffic after government protestors occupied it, as well as the old international airport, Don Muang.

Kasem Jariyawong, president of the Thai Air Freight Forwarders Association, said outbound air cargo through the main Suvarnabhumi airport was usually around 1,500 tonnes a day worth some 3 billion baht (US$86.4 million).

Of that, about 600-700 tonnes is perishable goods such as foodstuffs, fruit, orchids and other flowers, and ornamental fish. Electronics, including computer parts along with jewellery make up the remainder.

A prolonged closure of the US$4 billion Suvarnabhumi airport, a major Asian hub that can handle 3 million tonnes of cargo a year, inflicted serious damage to the export-driven economy already struggling to cope with a global slowdown.

Airports of Thailand (AoT) has estimated initial damage to its operations from the seizure of the two main Bangkok airports at 540 million baht, excluding lost business opportunities. Thai Airways, which operates its home hub out of Suvarnabhumi estimated its loses to be in excess of 20 billion baht, putting in on course for its first loss in 45 years.