BANGKOK (Reuters) - State-owned Airports of Thailand Pcl AOT.BK said on Wednesday it expects the number of passengers passing through its airports to decline by 53% this year due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Airports of Thailand (AOT) expects the number of passengers to drop to 66.58 million and the number of flights to decline by 44.9% to 493,800 for its fiscal year ending in September.
AOT, which operates six airports including the country’s largest international hub, Suvarnabhumi Airport, saw nearly 900,000 flights and 141.8 million passengers in the year ended September 2019, booking profits of 25 billion baht ($773 million).
The airport operator said that recovery of air traffic and passenger volume would depend on multiple factors, including how countries manage the outbreak, prevention methods and the discovery of a vaccine.
“The recovery of the aviation business will rely on destination countries. For Thailand this would include Asia-Pacific countries, which account for 80% of destinations,” AOT said in a statement, adding that it expected domestic flight to recover before international flights.
Commercial air travel has all but stopped as the coronavirus continues to spread.
The country’s aviation regulator in early April imposed a ban on passenger flights until the end of the month to curb to spread of the virus. In March the government banned the entry of non-resident foreigners.
Budget carriers Thai AirAsia AAV.BK and Thai Lion Air said they would resume domestic flights on May 1, with passengers asked to take precautionary measures including wearing masks and observing social distancing.
Thailand has a total of 2,826 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 48 deaths.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy stands to lose 1.3 trillion baht, most of it in the tourism sector.
More than 2.54 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 177,004 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Alex Richardson
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