The planned expansion of the airport will top 100 billion baht, with the aim of completion within three years. (Photo courtesy of Airports of Thailand)
The long-overdue expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport, which was delayed for scrutiny after last year’s May 22 coup, is now back on track.
The Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) board on Wednesday agreed to revive the phase two expansion that was supposed to be undertaken soon after the airport opened in September 2006.
The expansion will be on top of the capacity upgrade planned in August.
It means the state-controlled airport operator will carry out both expansion projects, which once completed in 2020 will launch Suvarnabhumi into the world’s league of mega airports with a capacity to handle 85 million passengers a year. Bangkok’s status as a Southeast Asian aviation hub will also be maintained.
The schemes will raise the airport’s annual passenger-handling capacity by 40 million, up by nearly 89% from the current capacity of 45 million that has already been stretched beyond its limit.
Phase two was stalled by the National Council for Peace and Order to verify the high costs and issues of transparency.
After the completion of scrutiny and the go-ahead from the AoT board, the second phase can proceed but with a budget reduced slightly to 61.74 billion baht from the 62.5 billion approved by AoT in 2010.
The scheme will increase Suvarnabhumi’s annual passenger-handling capacity to 60 million with supporting facilities.
Meanwhile, the augmented expansion approved by AoT last month calls for the construction of a new passenger terminal capable of processing more than 20 million travellers a year and a third runway that will initially be 2,900 metres in length before extending to 3,700 metres later.
A schematic shows the planned airport expansion, including a second passenger terminal (in pink) and a 700-metre Automated People Mover (APM, in blue and red) blended with current facilities.
That part of the work alone is estimated to cost 47.9 billion baht and together with phase two will raise the combined costs for executing both schemes to more than 109 billion.
Acting AoT president Nirandra Theeranatsin told the Bangkok Post that financing the two schemes was unlikely to put a fiscal strain on the airport operator.
“Money is not really an issue here, as we have 44 billion baht cash in hand now and the expansion work will be stretched over a long period of time,” he said.
AoT will now seek official approval to carry out the second phase, approved by the cabinet in August 2010, from the Transport Ministry and the National Economic and Social Development Board.
It will carry out the project in two stages, with the first one due to start in March 2016 and the second in October 2017.
The first stage involves the construction of a remote apron covering 960,000 square metres of land and capable of accommodating 28 jetliners including eight the size of A380 superjumbos, the extension of an operation support tunnel and installation of utilities.
The second stage will include construction of a satellite passenger terminal, extension of the main terminal’s eastern wing, construction of an airline office building and eastern car park, and an automated people mover system linking the satellite terminal to the main terminal.
By 2019, when the new passenger terminal and 2,900-metre runway are up and running, Suvarnabhumi will have the capacity to handle 70 million passengers a year. Once the entire expansion is completed a year later, the airport will be capable of handling 85 million passengers.
The expansion’s schedule is timed to match the forecast of passenger traffic growth.
Suvarnabhumi last year handled 46.4 million passengers and 289,568 aircraft movements.