Thailand, Laos, China in Talks for New Aviation Routes to Handle Surge in Flights

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Representational image (ET Infra)

New aviation routes are under discussion between Thailand, China, and Laos to alleviate air traffic congestion.

In response to an anticipated surge of 100,000 additional flights traversing their skies, Thailand, Laos, and China are in discussions to establish new aviation routes, as revealed by Nopasit Chakpitak, President of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Co., Ltd. (Aerothai), on 29 March.

The proposed parallel routes aim to alleviate congestion in the existing flight path designated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), particularly in northwestern Laos.

The aviation industry in Asia has been witnessing rapid growth, particularly in countries like China and India, as evidenced by orders exceeding 1,000 aircraft. In light of this, Nopasit emphasized that Aerothai, a state enterprise under the Thai Ministry of Transport, recognizes the necessity to enhance airspace capabilities to accommodate this expansion.

Nopasit indicated that once the three nations reach an agreement on the new aviation routes linking Thailand and China through Laos, they will seek approval from the ICAO. The parallel routes are anticipated to commence operations in early 2026, pending compliance with the ICAO’s safety standards.

The planned routes between Thailand and China are set to serve flights connecting northern Thai provinces such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai with major Chinese cities including Kunming, Guiyang, Chengdu, Tianfu, Chongqing, and Xian, according to Aerothai. 

These plans align with the Thai government’s ambition to position Thailand as a regional aviation hub.

Travel demand from China to Thailand has significantly increased, with flight numbers reaching about 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with India also seen as a growing market with ongoing growth.

Consequently, Aerothai anticipates an influx of over 900,000 flights into Thailand this year, up from 800,000 in 2023. By 2025, flight volumes are projected to rebound to pre-Covid levels of 1 million.