Thailand to double airport capacity, surpassing Singapore’s Changi

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Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the new U-tapao airport will handle up to 60 million passengers per year when its 20-year renovation is complete.
Photo: Hiroshi Kotani

Thailand is embarking on a building spree that promises to more than double the passenger capacity of airports in and around Bangkok, propelling the Thai capital past regional hub Singapore by that measure.

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review on Sept. 13, Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the new U-Tapao airport, a former military air base southeast of Bangkok, will handle up to 60 million passengers a year once it is fully renovated into a civil airport. The entire transformation is expected to take 20 years.

Currently, the airport accommodates around 300,000 passengers a year, mostly tourists on chartered flights to and from China and Russia.

 Located in the Eastern Economic Corridor, a heavily promoted special economic zone, U-Tapao will also serve as a gateway for business travelers, Arkhom said. The corridor is meant to attract investments in high-tech and high-value-added sectors such as aerospace, robotics and biotechnology, enhancing the country’s competitiveness.

“In order to promote these advanced industries, we need the new infrastructure,” Arkhom said. With Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports already over capacity, a new airport is essential.

Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang will also be expanded, reaching annual capacities of 90 million and 40 million, respectively, up from the current 45 million and 30 million. All told, the three airports will be able to handle 190 million passengers annually, a 2.5-fold increase.

This compares with the estimated 150 million passengers that Singapore’s Changi Airport will be handling in 2030, when its fifth terminal is completed.

Read full article at Nikkei Asian Review:

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