Phuket Airport Plans to Expand to Cope with Record Traffic

Construction News

Temporary expansion at Phuket International Airport is to begin from October to cope with record numbers of passengers expected on Phuket in 2012 and beyond.

With Phuket likely to reach eight million arrivals and departures this year, based on projections by Phuketwan, airport managers Airports of Thailand now have to stretch the capacity of the obsolete Phuket facility as far as possible before construction of the new airport is complete in 2014.

Bus gates – where arriving and departing passengers are taken to and fro by bus to aircraft parked on the tarmac – are to be restored as the number of travellers soar. And the departure concourse is to be expanded by knocking down the front wall and creating more space.

AoT’s Deputy Phuket Director, Thanee Choochoing, said today: ”We have contingency plans to take Phuket International Airport from dealing with 68 airlines to 90 airlines in the high season.

”We meet regularly each month with the key stakeholders in the airport, including the airlines and Immigration. We will be developing the space between Terminal One and Terminal Two initially so we can keep pace with growth.”

Khun Thanee said that current planning took the provision of facilities through to mid-2013. Before then, the construction team for the new airport should have some fresh ideas about creating more bays for aircraft.

Officially, the Phuket airport had an upward capacity of 6.5 million arrivals and departures, but an increase in direct flights and charter flights took the Phuket figure to a record seven million in 2010.

That’s almost certain to rise by one million to eight million within the 2011 calendar year on the monthly figures published by Phuketwan.

There is no reason why that level of increase will not be sustained as increased competition between airlines makes Phuket affordable to a greater number of people in old markets such as Europe and Australia and developing markets such as Russia and China.

AoT officials have already said the airport will be expanded to make room for 60 check-in counters before the high season.

This will not necessarily alleviate the bottleneck coming and going through Immigration, where some passengers from neighboring countries have in the past been forced to queue on the ground longer than their flight took to depart and arrive.

With the number of arrivals and departures totalling eight million, Phuket’s incoming tourists can be roughly estimated at four million, although many people living on Phuket travel for business and others from Bangkok and elsewhere fly to Phuket to visit family and friends.


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