Airport expansion costs drop

Construction News

World prices of oil and construction materials are falling, which should cut seven billion baht from the cost of expanding overcrowded Suvarnabhumi. (Photo by Creative Commons, Wikipedia)

The second phase of Suvarnabhumi airport’s expansion should be about seven billion baht cheaper due to falling oil and construction material prices, according to the Airports of Thailand (AoT).

AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said the construction budget has been reduced from 62 billion baht to 55 billion baht, with the same construction standards expected as before.

Construction bidding details should be finalised this year with bidding expected in the first quarter of next year, he said.

The international airport’s second-phase development is divided into six projects, Mr Nitinai said.

The first project expected to be signed will be the installation of an electrical system linking the passenger terminal and a new concourse.

The work is expected to take nearly three years to complete.

The other projects will be implemented gradually and will take just over two years to complete.

The AoT is in the process of drawing up the project contracts to be delivered to the State Enterprise Policy Committee for consideration. The AoT board will review the contracts by the end of next month.

According to Mr Nitinai, all work on Suvarnabhumi’s second phase will be completed in 2018, raising the airport’s annual passenger handling capacity from 45 million people to 60 million.

The airport currently handles 52 million passengers per year.

He said Don Mueang airport will have another international departure terminal by the end of the year, which will increase its capacity from 18.5 million passengers to 30 million.

Phuket airport will open another passenger terminal on Feb 14 next year, which will lift its handling capacity to 12 million passengers per year, up from six million.

Mr Nitinai said the AoT will also set aside 3% of its annual profit, or around 360 million baht, for research and development to improve passenger services.

Suvarnabhumi airport is now operating at 20% over-capacity while both Don Mueang and Phuket airports are handling double their capacity, according to the AoT president.

Efforts will also be made to develop mobile phone applications to supply information about airport services to passengers in multiple languages, upgrade check-in systems and scare away birds at airports to improve safety.

Sarinee Sangprasit, president of the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, said a system called Departure Flow Management will be used to improve outbound aircraft schedules to reduce air traffic congestion.

Speaking about the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s three-day inspection of Thai aviation safety standards, which kicked off Monday, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said most of the concerns raised earlier by the FAA have been addressed.

He was referring to six major concerns and 35 minor issues.

The concerns, according to a ministry source, include a lack of qualified staff for carrying out air safety inspections, and an ineffective method in evaluating staff efficiency.