ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai airport expanding
The Thai cabinet has approved the delayed expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport, estimated to cost 62 billion baht.
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand’s entry point for most air travelers, needs to expand after only four years of operation to prevent overcrowding.
The expansion that raises the passenger handling capacity of Bangkok's major airport to 60 million a year, will not be completed until at least 2015, about 4 years after the overcrowding stage has been reached.
Based on current trends, Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) expects Suvarnabhumi to reach its maximum capacity of 45 million passengers this year.
AoT made its first expansion proposal in late 2007, a year after Suvarnabhumi began operations. It subsequently underwent a series of reviews and revisions amid indecision by authorities and politicians.
The airport expansion will not be subject to another hurdle at the National Environment Board (NEB) as no runway construction is being proposed.
The expansion calls for construction of a satellite passenger terminal about 800 metres south of the existing terminal and linked by an underground automated people mover to the main aiport A concourse will accommodate 28 aircraft including A380 superjumbo jets, and there will also be new taxiways, buildings for airline offices and car parking, said AoT.
Officials hope that construction can start in 2012 and be completed in 2015 or 2016.
But between now and then, air traffic flow will have to be streamlined and aircraft time slots managed better.
AoT plans to allocate 45.05 billion baht of its own funds to finance the expansion and secure another 17.45 billion baht from external sources such as loans or issuing debt instruments. The aviation industry yesterday welcomed the project's approval.
The industry including the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has advocated the expansion of Suvarnabhumi and maintaining its status as Bangkok's sole international airport.
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