After 17 years of service, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport aims to get bigger and better

Construction News

After 17 years of service, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport aims to get bigger and better

A total of 756.47 million passengers, 4.74 million flights and air cargo services moving 20.95 million tons — those were the impressive statistics that were rolled out as Suvarnabhumi Airport celebrated the 17th anniversary of its operations on Thursday.
The airport is the process of regaining the momentum lost in the three years of impaired operations during Covid-19, Suvarnabhumi Airport director Kittipong Kittikachorn said on Thursday.

In the first 11 months of fiscal year 2023 (beginning October 1, 2022), Suvarnabhumi Airport handled a total of 268,477 flights, an increase of 59.4%, year on year. The number of passengers using the airport reached 44.40 million, a 153.4% increase. As Suvarnabhumi Airport moves into its 18th year of operations, the authorities have developed plans for expansion in various areas.

On Thursday, the Secondary Terminal Building 1, also known as SAT-1, was inaugurated in a soft opening ceremony. The official opening ceremony on Friday will be presided over by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. This expansion would increase the airport’s capacity to accommodate passengers by over 30%, from 45 million people annually to 60 million people, Kittipong said.

The airport also has introduced new technology for baggage handling and check-in by installing the Individual Carrier System. This is a high-speed baggage transport system that connects the Main Terminal Building to SAT-1, he revealed.

The first day of service at the new terminal appears to have gone smoothly. A total of 11 flights operated by two airlines, AirAsia X with 7 flights, and Thai Vietjet Air with 4 flights, used the new SAT-1. The service provided met the intended goals, and it took passengers travelling from SAT-1 to the main terminal only 18 minutes, he said.

The increased service area has made passenger travel more convenient and comfortable, Kerati Kijmanawat, the president of Airports of Thailand (AOT) — the authority running the airport — said.

The SAT-1 building is about a kilometre from the main terminal building. There is an APM train departing every five minutes, and the travel time is only two minutes, Kittipong said.

In December, AOT would be introducing a biometric system that would allow passengers to confirm their identity without the need for a passport and flight ticket, he said, adding that this would help reduce waiting times in long queues. It would accommodate passengers who check-in in advance, 4-5 hours before their flight, he said.

Kittipong revealed that Suvarnabhumi Airport was currently undertaking large-scale projects to enhance its capacity to accommodate more flights in the future. One such project is the construction of Runway 3, which is scheduled to begin service in July 2024. This runway would help the airport handle more flights, from the current 68 flights per hour (with two runways) to 94 flights per hour.

There is a project to construct the East Expansion of the main passenger terminal building, which would accommodate an additional 15 million passengers per year. Bids for the project are expected to be invited at the beginning of 2024, he said.

The airport has implemented the AOT Parking Management System, which includes an automated car parking fee collection system (Auto Pay) at parking zones 2 and 3.

Kittipong said that the airport places great importance in conducting its business while taking care of the environment. Suvarnabhumi Airport is the first green airport model in Thailand, focusing on environmental sustainability. This is achieved through the solar rooftop project to generate electricity. The system has a capacity of 4.408 megawatts and has been operational since August 9, 2022, he said.

The solar panels have helped reduce the interior temperature of the passenger terminal building by more than 7 degrees Celsius. This has resulted in a reduction of over 3,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, he said.