Thailand targets top 20 ranking for Suvarnabhumi Airport by 2029

The Ministry of Transport is aiming to elevate Suvarnabhumi International Airport into the world’s top 20 airports by 2029, aligning with the government’s ambition to make Thailand a global aviation hub, according to government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit set the target following Suvarnabhumi Airport’s ranking of 58th on the 2024 World’s Best Airport list by Skytrax, a UK-based consultancy that evaluates airlines and airports globally. Last year, the airport was ranked 68th.

In a related development, Don Mueang Airport, which serves as Bangkok’s hub for low-cost carriers, was listed among the top 10 on Skytrax’s 2024 World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Terminals.

Suvarnabhumi Airport is one of the busiest in the region, and the government plans for it to handle 170 million passengers and one million flights annually by 2029, Chai stated. By 2034, the expectation is to accommodate 210 million passengers and 1.2 million flights per year.

Chai highlighted that from October 2023 to May 2024, Suvarnabhumi Airport welcomed 81.05 million passengers, approximately 83.4% of the figures recorded in the same period of 2019-2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic. Of these passengers, 48.95 million travelled on domestic flights, while the remainder were on international flights. During the same period, the airport handled 490,970 flights, about 81% of the total in 2019, said Chai.

“The prime minister intends to ramp up the development of Thailand’s airports under the government’s plan to turn the country into an aviation hub. These airports’ capacity will continue to be upgraded and we will continue to improve passengers’ experience.”

Traveller convenience

Suvarnabhumi is undergoing an expansion to add an extra 81,000 square metres of space, enhancing traveller convenience. The airport’s third runway is also set to be operational by September, increasing its capacity to handle 94 flights per hour from the current 68 per hour.

Separately, Suriya has directed authorities at Krabi Airport to prepare for an anticipated surge in flights and passengers by the end of the year. More airlines have requested flight slots at Krabi Airport to cater to increasing traveller demand, following the 154th Slot Conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), held from June 11-13 in Bogotá, Colombia.

Ten airlines, including Flydubai, Scoot Tigerair, LOT Polish Airlines, TUI Fly, Jetstar Asia Airways, Thai AirAsia, AirAsia Berhad, Bangkok Airways, Shanghai Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines, have requested scheduled direct flights to and from Krabi Airport. Additionally, three international charter flight operators, TUI Fly, LOT Polish Airlines, and Neos Airlines, have made similar requests, according to Danai Ruangsorn, acting director-general of the Department of Airports (DoA).

Eastar Jet and Spring Airlines have also sought further information on flight slots. Last year, only five airlines operated international flights to and from Krabi Airport.

Krabi Airport saw 3,006 flights and approximately 430,000 passengers last year. The increase in slot requests reflects the area’s growing popularity among international tourists and those seeking to reach other destinations via Krabi.

Danai assured that Krabi Airport is capable of handling the expected rise in traffic. A new terminal is under construction and will be ready next year, allowing the airport to accommodate 3,000 additional passengers per hour. Currently, the airport can handle up to 25 flights per hour, reported Bangkok Post.

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