The Department of Airports (DoA) is planning to upgrade Hua Hin Airport into an international airport to boost tourism.
Rattapol Charoenphon, acting director of Hua Hin Airport, on Sunday said the airport, operated by the DoA, recently expanded its runway to 2.1 kilometres long and 60m wide to accommodate Airbus A320 aircraft.
The airport also has parking bays for three of the aircraft, he added.
Currently, Thai AirAsia is the only airline that provides a one-stop service between Hua Hin and Chiang Mai three times a week.
Mr Rattapol said the airport wants to serve international flights, and to do so, it needs to improve safety around the airport by building additional infrastructure, including expanding the traffic tunnel on Phetkasem Road, about 1km from the airport, and the airport train tunnel. The safe zone around the airport will also be improved to meet International Civil Aviation Organisation standards, he said.
He said the DoA has a company in mind for the safety expansion project. It will need approval from the Transport Ministry, which must also forward the budget request to the Budget Bureau, he said. The project will need 600 days to complete after the contract is signed.
In the meantime, the airport is also conducting a study on its options to expand facilities, he said, adding meetings with commercial airlines were planned to learn about their concerns.
A report is expected this year before it is submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand for the approval of a licence to operate an international airport.
Earlier, Nopasit Chakpitak, president of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, held a seminar on guidelines to develop Hua Hin Airport to accommodate more aircraft as part of a plan to spur tourism in the province.
Currently, Hua Hin Airport handles about 30,000 private jets a year, so it has the potential to grow, he said.
Wassana Srikanchana, president of the Hua Hin Cha Am Tourism Business Association, said Hua Hin Airport has great potential as it is relatively close to Bangkok, adding having an international airport in Hua Hin will help bring in tourists and stimulate the economy of Prachuap Khiri Khan and nearby Phetchaburi.