Whilst Thailand needs the economic boost from travel there is no aspiration amongst the general population to relax border controls according to Greg Martin, chief executive officer, Siam Land Flying.
Thailand has remained relatively Covid-19 free so far and has maintained strict border controls throughout the pandemic. “So there is no appetite amongst the population to open up the borders to jeopardise that situation so we are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The economy needs the travel but the population wants the security that they currently enjoy,” said Martin.
Presenting at the CJI Asia 2020 conference, Martin gave his insight into the rise of business aviation in Thailand. Where habitually, there is a “relatively inactive” fleet of approximately 30 aircraft which remain in the country for most of the year. That number was beginning to expand pre-Covid-19 said Martin and he expects that growth to uptick once again.
“While people may now be delaying because they don’t want to purchase an asset they may not be able to use the interest continues to increase as people realise the limitations through travel restrictions and the relative decimation of general aviation here in Thailand. Thai Airways hasn’t flown for probably six months.”
Siam Land Flying is also investing in infrastructure to expand business aviation in Thailand. Martin said the company is just finishing physical construction of an FBO in Phuket, which he hopes to open by the end of this year, if not early next.
Phuket airport is also difficult to visit according to Martin, many visitors fly in, are dropped off and the aircraft flies out again because there is no parking. To solve this Siam Land Flying has constructed a 7,500m² hangar. The hangar and the FBO are also remotely located from the airport to alleviate contact point worries Martin noted.