On Saturday, a special Charter flight DD6260 operated by Nok Air landed at the airport at 11.17 am carrying 78 passengers who arrived at Betong Airport from Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport, the first ever to the province.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) recently authorized a license and certification allowing commercial flights to and from the airport.
The opening comes at an odd time as the increasingly devastating third wave of Covid-19 has all but closed domestic air traffic barring a few special exceptions like Sandbox flights, and Yala and the southern provinces were among the first to go into maximum controlled dark red zone semi-lockdowns.
Seksakol Attawong, an assistant to the prime minister’s office and a passenger on the aircraft, said the Ministry of Transport is currently discussing terms with commercial airlines. Betong Airport is scheduled to be fully open to the general public and tourists in February.
Construction began in 2016 with a budget of 1.9 billion baht. The airport had been scheduled to open in 2019, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Betong Airport is expected to increase tourism in the province, with the Betong Tourism Association forecasting the number of visitors to rise from 200,000 to 400,000-500,000 as a result of easier access between the province and the rest of the country.