Suvarnabhumi airport’s long-delayed 62.5-billion-baht expansion took its first step forward yesterday with the appointment of a consultancy group commissioned to ensure that all work involved is executed accordingly.
Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) awarded a 809.9-million-baht contract to the EPM Consortium as the project management consultant (PMC) for the scheme to raise the airport’s passenger-handling capacity by 33% in the next six years.
The awarding was seen as a crucial step to jump-start the expansion of Bangkok’s air gateway, a project that the airline industry calls long overdue and says will still lag behind traffic volume even when completed in 2017.
The expansion will render an incremental passenger-handling capacity of just 15 million passengers a year, on top of existing capacity of 45 million.
Last year, 48 million passengers passed through Suvarnabhumi, and the numbers are likely to reach 51 million this year, AoT president Anirut Thanomkulbutra said yesterday.
EPM, the group consisting of three Thai firms and a Japanese concern, will essentially play a supervisory role in all phases involved in the expansion, ranging from design to construction, over the 70-month period.
Many of the working team of Oriental Consultants, the Japanese firm that is part of EPM, were involved in a similar task for the original construction of Suvarnabhumi airport, which became operational in 2006.
Construction is expected to start in mid-2013, and EPM assured that the expanded airport would be up and running by 2017.
AoT is trying to persuade some 10 airlines, particularly low-cost carriers and those providing point-to-point flights, to shift to Don Mueang airport across the city to take some of the strain off Suvarnabhumi.
Mr Anirut expects some airlines to begin moving operations to Don Mueang in July, as the airport strives to fill the capacity of Terminal 1 (T1), which can handle 14.5 million passengers a year.
T1 is one of three passenger terminals at Don Mueang. It was the only one revived after the airport was ravaged by last year’s floods.