Phuket airport capacity ‘must be raised to 18 million’
The current expansion of Phuket International Airport is some 18 months away from completion but now the owner, Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) already wants to embark as soon as possible on further expansion.
The current expansion will increase capacity to 12.5 million passengers in and out – but by the time it is complete numbers are expected to be up around that level already.
Under a proposal submitted by AoT to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the state-controlled airport operator has advocated raising the passenger handling capacity to 18 million.
“It’s imperative for us to get further expansion going [at Phuket] if we are to catch up with the fast-growing traffic demand,” AoT president Mekin Petplai said.
Traffic through Phuket is growing fast due largely to the resort’s growing popularity as one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations.
Passenger traffic is projected to soar to 12.5 million by the end of this year, almost double the existing facility’s 6.5-million-a-year capacity.
The plan envisages a second international terminal at Phuket to raise the capacity to 18 million passengers annually.
It is hoped that the upgrade to the upgrade, with a projected cost of B3.7 billion, could be up and running by 2018, providing a relief to the likely congestion.
The current B5.7-billion expansion is a year behind schedule because the main contractor, Sino-Thai, has encountered ‘a myriad construction problems’.
Mr Mekin has also proposed a doubling of Don Muang Airport’s capacity to 60 million passengers a year because of the soaring numbers of low-cost airline flights in and out of the airport.
And, he said, he believes that the NCPO also understands the need to have the Phase 2 expansion of Suvarnabhumi carried out, even though it has placed the B62.5-billion scheme under scrutiny.
That project would increase annual passenger handling capacity at Bangkok’s gateway airport to 60 million from the current 45 million by 2017.
The junta has stalled the project to verify the high costs involved and issues of transparency.