Thailand is to develop and expand a major airport near Pattaya, increasing passenger capacity almost fourfold. It will begin construction of a new passenger terminal, taxiways and aircraft parking bays shortly with view to completing them next year.
A report on the development in yesterday’s Bangkok Post was widely discussed at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2015.
As well as being a Royal Thai Navy airfield, U-Tapao is the home of a large Thai Airways maintenance facility, servicing that airline’s aircraft as well as those of other customers.
Thailand’s Transport Ministry and the Navy have clinched a deal to develop the airport for commercial purposes, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday.
The development will occur in three phases, with the first beginning almost immediately and slated for competition next year. It will equip the airport to handle three million passengers a year, Thailand’s Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said.
The existing terminal can handle just 800,000 passengers a year. The second phase, between 2018-2020, will involve infrastructure development and will lift airport’s capacity to five million passengers a year.
The third phase, from 2020 onwards, will see the addition of further infrastructure and other amenities.
Flights from Europe, Russia and China are seen as likely to favour the new airport. That could relieve pressure on Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, which only a couple of weeks ago Prajin said had been designed to handle 45 million passengers annually and was already handling 50 million.
Last month, Prajin said Thailand would have to cap the number of incoming flights to avoid overloading its skies and airports. A move away from the “open sky” policy was needed to ensure aviation safety, he said.
The expansion of U-Tapao-Pattaya International Airport may provide a better solution.
Written by Peter Needham in Bangkok