Thailand's Open Skies Under Pressure
There is little doubt that airlift has been the single most prolific stimulator to Thailand's tourism growth trajectory since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
All of that may be coming to an end.
Late last week Transport Minister Prajin Juntong was quoted in the Bangkok Post that the country's open 'open skies' policy is under review and that new restrictions on additional flights would be coming in a new policy in September.
This news comes on the heels of an announcement that the expansion plans of the nation's gateway airport Suvarnabhumi which was to include a fast tracked second terminal and third runaway will now undergo a specific master planning review and environmental assesment.
The expansion process now is likely to be delayed to 2018 and a possible completion in 2020.
In the meantime Suvarnabhumi has passed its stated passenger capacity of 45 million a year, and has moved well past 50 million.
There are also concerns now over flight management given international sanctions by North Asia and widespread safety concerns.
Thailand's chaotic aviation conundrum, which has been accelerated by a proliferation of low-cost airline carriers may be viewed as either a blessing or a curse to the tourism sector.
For now airlift constraints may allow the hotel sector to focus on quality, though oversupply conditions in most markets point to continued pressure points on room rates.