Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday ordered agencies to expedite measures to alleviate the congestion at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
After inspecting the problem-plagued Bangkok airport, Yingluck said a committee would be formed to follow up on immediate and long-range plans closely to ease the crowding, shorten delays and also to expand aircraft and passenger capacity.
Thailand should prepare a plan to strengthen competitiveness to serve the growing influx of visitors, she said.
Under the second phase of Airports of Thailand’s master plan, the construction of a second passenger terminal should be completed within 70 months or before 2017, while a third runway will be added to smooth increasing air traffic in the future.
Suvarnabhumi Airport can handle only 55 flights per hour compared with its rated capacity of 76 flights because the western runway can by used for only 20 per cent of the total flights. The eastern runway, which is the main landing strip, is now being repaired. However, the repaired area is expected to be half-ready for flight operations by July 18 tomorrow and fully serviceable by the end of this month.
Transport Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan said the prime minister had expressed concern about the limited capacity of the airport and urged agencies to solve the problem. The airport was designed to serve 52 million visitors per year but now the figure has reached 54 million.
Yingluck also instructed all parties to check flight times and airline routes to see if more flights could be squeezed in. “The flights are quite full now. We have to inform passengers in advance and learn from our problems to prepare plans,” she said.
Agencies should accelerate the repair of Suvarnabhumi and prepare Don Mueang Airport as the second international gateway, the PM said.
Thailand should look beyond inbound and outbound tourists and focus on attracting visitors to its airports at major tourist destinations such as Phuket, which is already over-stretched, she added.