Airport expansion initiatives prioritised

26th Sep 2022

Waiting at Airport

With the upcoming High Season and the Thai government's anticipation of a large number of visitors, airport expansion plans are being hastened. As foreign travel returns in larger numbers, one of Thailand's aims is to become a transit hub for Southeast Asia. To assist in achieving the objective and accommodate the flood of travellers, facilities are being extended at both local and international airports.

Smaller regional hubs compete to grow and boost their domestic travel capacity. Krabi Airport in southern Thailand will connect tourists to famous tourism spots outside Phuket. The northeastern Khon Kaen Airport will expand to accommodate more Isaan travellers. The western Mae Sot Airport will transport travellers to the Burmese border. In addition, the new Betong Airport in the province of Yala in the Deep South will serve travellers near the Malaysian border.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi

The Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is the major emphasis, with the hope of enhancing its hub position via additional expansion. The expansions are designed to handle up to 120 million passengers per year. The airport's current capacity is around 45 million passengers per year, which is similar to the entire number of visitors that visited Thailand in 2019 prior to the epidemic.

The airport will increase from 51 to 79 gates as a result of the development of Terminal 1. This expansion is set to be done this year. This includes building a third runway.Other improvements will be made over the following many years.

According to a development plan, the passenger terminal north will expand by 348 000 square metres in April of next year.This construction is anticipated to begin in January 2025 and conclude in June 2025. In the following two years, an additional 66,000 square metres will be added to the east passenger terminal. Plans are being considered for the expansion of an additional 66,000 square metres to the west.

Bangkok Don Mueang

Airports of Thailand is collaborating with the Department of Airports to develop three main airports and three minor airports in central Thailand. In addition to Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang International Airport, the secondary airport servicing the wider Bangkok region, will be upgraded. The main airport that serves Pattaya in Chon Buri, U-Tapao Airport in Rayong, is also being improved.

Don Mueang proposes to accommodate an additional 18 million travellers per year. Currently, they can accommodate 30 million people each year. Planned expansion calls for the addition of 12 additional gates for aircraft parking in a third terminal with 155,000 square metres of area. The design has already been finished, and construction contract bidding will commence shortly.

U-Tapao Airport 

U-Tapao Airport is much smaller than its Bangkok equivalents, with an annual capacity of 1.5 million passengers. The ambitious development plans will create a second terminal and increase the annual passenger capacity to five million. This new terminal is not anticipated to open until 2027.

All of these airports under the AoT will coordinate with high-speed rail projects to facilitate the movement of people around the region. The idea is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor Initiative, which aims to attract investment to the nation's eastern area.