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New Phuket Airport scheduled for take off

February 3, 2012

Around 40 local businesspeople and representatives met today (February 3) to discuss the B5.7 billion redesign of the Phuket International Airport (PIA), with some expressing concern that the upgrade would not be enough to cater for the expected future increase in passenger numbers.


The Senate Committee of Transportation (SCT) visited Phuket to hear feedback from locals about the new airport plans, revealing for the first time an artist’s impression of the new building.

The new PIA will be able to cope with 12.5 million passengers annually, compared with 8.2 million per year at the moment. There will be 1,500 car parking spaces and 33 immigration counters, up from 21 counters currently.

The construction of the international terminal is due to start this June, and is expected to be finished by 2014, while the renovation of the domestic terminal is due to be complete by 2015.

If the design goes ahead, the airport will be able to accommodate 25 planes at any one time, up from 15 at the moment.

The airport will be capable of 20 flight arrivals and departures per hour.

However, several representatives said passenger numbers could exceed 12.5 million in the future, and questioned whether plans could be changed to make the runway longer, to allow more planes.

Phuket senator Thanyarat Achariyachai said the largest number of passengers on the busiest day in 2010 was 20,000.

This increased to 32,000 visitors on 2011’s busiest day, Ms Thanyarat said, raising the question of whether the airport could support increasing tourist numbers in the future.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) representative Chaturongkapon Sodmanee said he would look into the issue of extending the runway to allow for more planes.

However, he personally thought the current runway length of three kilometres in length was more than enough – despite the minimum length required for the double-decker A380 being 3.5 kilometres.

“Extending the runway further will make the airport overlap with private property and existing roads. We also have to think carefully about the environmental impact of this.”

There were also flight scheduling options to prevent overcrowding at the airport, he said.

AOT will consider the feedback and present an updated design to the representatives soon.

The new airport design includes a new international terminal, and the renovation of the domestic terminal.

The design was created by a group of Thai designers and architects who have adapted the look to fit Phuket’s unique characteristics.

Accordingly, Chinese-colonial architecture and a large wave design – to represent Phuket’s beaches, rather than the 2004 tsunami – also feature.

The design also consists of ‘green’ energy saving systems such as using natural light and water reuse.

To solve the problem of tourists being harassed by taxi drivers at the entrance of the PIA, the new design proposes a buffer zone and separate exits for those wishing to use the bus and taxi services.

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