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Business: Thailand’s airports to get overhauls

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: As authorities anticipate 34 million foreign-tourist arrivals and 150 million domestic air travellers in 2017, major airports including Phuket International, Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang International, U-tapao Rayong-Pattaya International, Krabi International and Chiang Rai Mae Fah Luang International are undergoing renovations or expansion.

Meanwhile, there have been calls for some small airports upcountry, such as in Roi-et, Nakhon Ratchasima and Hua Hin, to be upgraded to international status in order to attract more foreign airlines and tourists. The Transport Ministry also plans a new airport in Yala Province.

Wandee Tiansawakit, a tourism ‘expert’ and former president of the Professional Tourist Guide Association in Buriram Province, said businesses such as hotels and travel companies wanted the government to make Buri Ram Airport an international facility as well as adding a new cargo terminal.

The province has become a famous sports destination thanks to the success of the Buriram United Football Club. If Buriram Airport could gain international status and a customs office, and have its cargo-handling ability upgraded, it should attract more domestic and foreign airlines into the lower part of the Northeastern region and boost tourism.

The private sector in Nakhon Ratchasima is urging the government to develop its airport as the city is growing.

Representatives from the Department of Airports, which owns Krabi Airport, says it plans to expand capacity to serve the increasing number of flights by low-cost airlines. The airport was originally designed to handle 3 million passengers a year, but the numbers keep rising. The department is also planning a new airport in Yala’s Betong district, and the Transport Ministry has taken responsibility for that plan.

Airports of Thailand (AOT), which operates Phuket International Airport, said the airport’s capacity had been increased from 6.5 million passengers per year to 12.5 million after completion of a new international passenger terminal.

AOT aims to push Phuket International Airport as the new gateway into southern Thailand, particularly the Andaman Coast, covering five provinces – Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga and Trang.

Meanwhile, at Bangkok’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha visited sites at its second-phase expansion in September and was reassured that annual passenger capacity would be increased from the current 45 million to 60 million by 2019.

Earlier, the AOT announced multi-billion-baht plans for further development at Don Mueang International Airport to serve increasing numbers of tourist arrivals and domestic flights.

Rear Admiral Worapol Tongpricha, director of Rayong U-tapao Pattaya International Airport, said a further 400 million baht would be spent on the drab facility’s expansion after 600 million baht was spent there last year.

The government earlier granted a budget of 800 million baht to build a new passenger terminal at U-tapao in order to meet demand and increasing tourism in the Eastern region. The airport currently accommodates only 4,000 passengers a day, with a maximum capacity of 800,000 passengers per year. Once the new terminal is completed, it should be able to serve up to 3 million passengers per year and increase capacity to 60,000 flights per year.

— The Nation

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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