The Bangkok Transport Ministry has defended its move to transfer three airports including Udon Thani (UTH), Buri Ram (BFV) and Krabi (KBV) from the Department of Airports (DoA) to Airports of Thailand (AoT) under a budget-saving plan, Bangkok Post reported.

This move, considered by the Council of State, is said to be part of the new THB9.19bn ($251m) air transport development project, the publication noted.

The Transport Ministry said that the move does not involve handing over state properties or assets to a private company since AoT is also a state enterprise, although its shares are traded on the stock exchange market.

It added that AoT would be required to pay the rent for the usage facilities and land to the Treasury Department.

The ministry also quashed the concerns that the transfer could breach the law against fixed bids and confirmed that no bids have been called or made to accommodate the management transfer.

This transfer of the three airports is expected to overhaul the airport network as well as streamline airspace management under the commercial airport development masterplan.

According to the transfer agreement, AoT will be required to invest in these airports in the first five years to make them more competitive.

After assuming the management activities of the three airports, AoT will have to sign a contract to lease the land and rent the facilities from the Treasury Department.