Bangkok’s main airport aims for 150 million capacity in 2030

Big plans: Travellers at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. The Thai government wants the airport to be ranked among the world’s top 20 within five years from 68 now. — AFP

BANGKOK: Thailand plans to more than double the capacity of its main airport in Bangkok as the tourism-reliant nation seeks to build an aviation hub to serve the South-East Asian region.

Airports of Thailand Pcl (AOT) will add two new runways and a new passenger terminal besides expanding the capacity of the existing facility at Suvarnabhumi airport, according to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

Once completed in 2030, the airport will be able to handle 150 million passengers annually, up from about 60 million now, he said.

The expansion of Suvarnabhumi, the gateway to Thailand for tens of millions of foreign tourists, is part of the Srettha government’s efforts to position the country as a regional aviation hub that caters to major airlines and air cargo operators.

The government also plans to build new airports in other tourist hot spots such as Chiang Mai and the Andaman region besides augmenting the capacity of other existing airports.

Thailand’s strategic location in the heart of the Asia-Pacific region, bordered by three neighbouring countries, and its benefit from the Asean open skies policy are key factors which will drive the aviation hub initiatives, Srettha said.

The government wants Suvarnabhumi to be ranked among the world’s top 20 within five years from 68 now, he said.

Suvarnabhumi’s upgrade will include expansion to the east and west side of its existing terminal to handle an additional 30 million passengers annually. A new terminal to be built to the south will handle another 60 million travellers and will be linked to the main facility, Srettha said.

The prime minister didn’t say how much the expansion will cost and how it will be funded.

State-controlled Airports of Thailand, the operator of the nation’s six major airports, earlier said it planned to invest around 100 billion baht between 2024 and 2029 for capacity addition. The nation’s second-biggest company by market value has said new investment will be mainly funded from internal cash flow.

AOT’s shares rose 3.2% to close at 65.50 baht, the highest since Nov 22. The stock has gained 9.6% this year compared with a 3.4% decline in the benchmark SET Index.

The upgrade of Don Mueang, the second airport in the Thai capital, will include construction of a new terminal for international passengers and expansion of the existing facilities to handle a total of 50 million passengers a year by 2030 from 30 million now. — Bloomberg

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