The completion date for the new terminal at Phuket International Airport has slipped back from November 2014 to early 2015, meaning a longer period of overcrowding and tourist unhappiness.
The new date for finishing the long-awaited building was revealed in an interview with Airports of Thailand managing director Flight Lieutenant Anirut Thanombutr.
The new facility is expected to reach its maximum capacity of 12.5 million passengers arriving and departing Phuket in 2018, he is quoted as saying in today’s Bangkok Post.
To have the new airport terminal completed in early 2015 and at full capacity by 2018 means that Phuket’s tourism future is both crowded – and clouded. Lack of forward-thinking appears to remain a serious issue.
Although big international airports with the current upward trend of Phuket’s air traffic have to plan 10 years ahead, no strategy has been revealed for Phuket beyond 2018, when the airport grounds will have no more room for growth.
“Phuket [International] Airport is now overcrowded,” Khun Anirut admits. ”The maximum capacity of the facility is 6.5 million passengers a year, but the airport served around eight million passengers last year.”
Tourists leaving from Phuket in peak period have experienced delays at the airports longer than their flights to nearby international cities. Delays on Phuket are also a turn-off for tourists, and they seldom forget a bad airport experience.
One Australian man even told Phuketwan that last week, during temporary arrangements caused by coaches transporting passengers to the terminal, he and other passengers picked up their luggage and left the airport without processing Customs and Immigration.
Khun Anirut told the Post that the new Phuket international terminal will be a double-sided glass building to allow more natural light in and prevent heat from entering to help reduce energy consumption of central air conditioning systems.
“The airport will have a unique design that allows relatives and friends to see and be able to wave goodbye to passengers while the plane is taking off,” he added. A green initiative will be started by planting more trees.
The latest addition to Phuket international in 2011 was a row of giant billboards that block out the view of green hills as passengers arrive on Phuket. The new international terminal is said to offer passengers more space at boarding gates as well as shopping areas.