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More passengers are coming and going from Phuket airport now

Phuket Passenger Numbers Hint at Recovery

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
AIR PASSENGER numbers for August on Phuket show that, at least in terms of bums on seats or on top of two legs moving around the island, a recovery is underway.

Flights in and out improved dramatically by a whopping 22.38 percent to a total of 2980. Total arrivals and departures rose to 469,927 for the month, an increase of 11.76 percent over the previous year.

What the figures don't show, though, is how much economic punch the visitors were packing.

Holidaymakers are always expected to be light-hearted. Unfortunately most of them these days remain light of wallet, too.

Yet it would be churlish to complain. If the people are returning, some day soon their money might come back, too.

Before spilling the champagne, let's recollect that at the very end of August last year, Phuket International Airport was invaded and occupied for three days by yellow-shirted political activists.

Except for one special flight that the then governor was allowed to take to Bangkok for a royal event, nothing flew in, or out, for a long period.

So the big boost in numbers is based on comparison with a turbulent, truncated month last year.

We can expect September's figures to appear as though a real boom in underway in comparison with last year, but perhaps not so pronounced compared to 2007.

Airport officials anticipate a record number of 6.3 million arrivals and departures by the time we cheer in the New Year on December 31.

For the record, the figures for October-August 2009 remain 12.31 percent down in terms of flight numbers compared to the previous year.

But at least passenger numbers burst through the five million barrier to reach 5,051,643, which is still 10.71 percent down on October 2007-August 2008. Cargo is still sufering similarly.

Domestic numbers are up much more than international, with local flight numbers improving 32.75 percent compared to 11.19 percent for overseas flights.

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