Transport authorities are discussing the expansion of Chiang Mai airport with a new terminal and more aircraft parking bays, as part of solutions to ease traffic congestion and overcrowding.
Whether the new facilities will be built depends on a new strategic plan to upgrade the airport, which will be prepared by a working group led by permanent secretary for transport Soithip Trisuddhi, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said yesterday.
The minister unveiled the move after his latest inspection at Chiang Mai airport found the ageing structure was in need of expansion to better serve the increasing numbers of air travellers.
“The airport is now operating at its full capacity to receive passengers,” said Chiang Mai airport director Wisut Chanthana.
The terminal serves six million domestic passengers and two million foreign passengers annually.
A new terminal would allow the airport to handle an additional four million travellers, said Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, president of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), which oversees Chiang Mai airport.
A new terminal is needed as a long-term plan to cope with expected future demand growth, said Gp Capt Wisut, citing the AoT’s master plan.
The government should also consider building a car park for 2,000 cars, as currently it can hold only 800 vehicles, he said.
However, ACM Prajin said authorities first need to find ways to improve the existing terminal to solve the congestion.
Later they can plan how to construct the second terminal, car park and more parking bays.
The limited area around the airport restricts new construction, he said, adding it might have to “expand vertically” and build facilities, such as the car park, underground.
Once Ms Soithip’s group finishes the strategic plan for the airport, it will be forwarded to the AoT for further action, he said, adding the developments outlined in the plan will be carried out next year.