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Thailand's Central Pattana to go ahead with mall opening despite airport row

[BANGKOK] Thailand's Central Pattana (CPN) said it will go ahead with mall opening despite its unresolved dispute with state-owned Airports of Thailand (AOT) , the country's top mall operator said on Wednesday.

Central said in a statement that it had complied with all regulations and would not delay the mall's opening.

Last week, AOT officials blocked the entrance to the 5 billion baht (S$226.7 million) luxury mall, set to open on Aug 31 near Suvarnahbumi international airport.

Courts held a hearing on Wednesday after Central filed a complaint to the administrative court requesting for the removal of barriers.

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The new mall would increase retail competition around the airport, which is a major beneficiary of tourism in Thailand, where foreign tourist spending make up about 12 per cent of the economy.

AOT reported a 4 per cent increase in concession revenue in the three month period ended June from a year earlier, to 4.3 billion baht.

"As an airport operator, there are issues that we must satisfy regulators ... are buildings too high, is there lighting that would disturb planes," AOT President Nitinai Sirismatthakarn told Reuters.

The government earlier this month approved an extension of visa fee waivers to spur tourism growth.

Unlisted King Power currently holds the duty-free and retail concession at Suvarnabhumi and other airports in Thailand.