Phuket airport’s long-delayed expansion will reach a milestone on Feb 14 when the new passenger terminal has its trial run.
The scheduled kick-off follows the completion of the four-storey international terminal that forms the major part of the 5.14-billion-baht expansion of the country’s third-busiest airport.
A Thai Airways International flight, TG 609 from Hong Kong, will be the first test of the new facility when contractor Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction Plc hands over its work to Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT).
The flight will determine whether the arrival section of the terminal is up to scratch before a series of tests for various systems at the facility begin, airport general manager Monrudee Gettuphan told the Bangkok Post yesterday.
Tests of all systems will be conducted until May, when the entire terminal goes into full operation. The official opening is scheduled for June 1.
The new terminal, costing 2.45 billion baht to build, has been a long time coming; the airport has faced critical congestion from a capacity shortfall and a surge in passenger traffic to and from the southern resort island.
The structure should relieve overcrowding at the airport, which has handled twice as many passengers as the 6.5 million a year for which it was designed.
Last year, the airport handled 12.9 million passengers, 12.8% more than in 2014, with international numbers rising 8.27% to 6.95 million and the domestic figure surging 18.6% to 5.90 million.
The new terminal, distinguished by its blue roof, has combined floor space of 72,338 square metres and is equipped with five baggage carousels.
Technically, the terminal is capable of processing 5 million passengers a year.
The full expansion of Phuket airport, meanwhile, is yet to be completed as the existing old terminal awaits renovation.
AoT, the state-controlled company that operates the country’s six major airports, will finalise the renovation plan of the existing terminal.
The renovation will be carried out in stages under timelines to be worked out later and the airport won’t close entirely, according to Mrs Monrudee.
When the new terminal comes into operation in May, the existing terminal will be assigned to exclusively handle domestic flights.
The renovation will be covered by the 5.14-billion-baht budget earmarked for the full expansion of Phuket airport.
Given that the airport’s existing facilities have been able to cope with more than 12.5 million passengers a year — the technical capacity of the fully expanded airport — the new terminal should be able to deal with a larger scale of passenger traffic than stipulated, Mrs Monrudee said.