Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport finally scheduled to get third runway

Construction News

Tentative 2018 completion date of the third runway

The long delayed plan to build a third runway at Suvarnabhumi airport, code-named BKK, has been greenlit as authorities now see the urgency of addressing the airport’s overcrowding.

Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) is setting the scheme into motion, which was initially planned for right after BKK opened in September 2006, following instruction from Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan.

There were multiple disruptions at BKK in the past month. A section of BKK’s western runway subsided on July 5, which following the closure of the eastern runway for overlay since June 11 caused flight delays. Then on June 21, the radar system broke down from 6.14 to 7.12pm, crippling flights and causing diversions to other airports.

BKK has been operating beyond its 45-million-passenger-per-year capacity for two years, and a third runway is slated to take six years to build.

There will be a number of bureaucratic steps – approval from the AoT board, the National Economic and Social Development Board, the environmental regulating body and the cabinet – before construction can start, said Somchai Sawasdeepon, BKK general manager.

Without giving a specific time frame, the Transport Minister told AoT to complete the new runway as soon as possible, although AoT said it should be up and running in 2018.

The third runway would be 4,000 metres in length, paved with 73-cm thick bitumen, and run parallel to Kingkaew road. Construction should take 30 months.

The estimated cost is 13 billion baht, with 7.8 billion going towards compensating some 4,000 households affected by the construction, while the construction cost itself is 3.6 billion baht.

The airport chief conceded the third runway may not provide much relief for BKK’s congestion anytime soon but will smooth traffic when BKK’s two existing runways are under maintenance.

With the third runway, BKK would be able to handle up to 88 take-offs and landings per hour, up from 76 with the two existing runways both operating.

“The move is long overdue and I think AoT should take every opportunity to make sure the runway is available by 2018,” said Marisa Pongpattanapun, chairwoman of the Airline Operators Committee.

The tentative 2018 date of the third runway could mean it would be completed the same time as the long-delayed 62.5-billion-baht BKK expansion that began just over a month ago.

EPM Consortium was appointed project management consultant on May 29 for a scheme to raise the airport’s passenger handling capacity by 33% over the next six years to 60 million passengers a year.

Even when expansion is complete in 2017, BKK’s capacity will still lag projected traffic volume, say industry analysts.


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