26 November 2019
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has demanded that controversial plans for the northern expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport be clarified, in a bid to clear doubts surrounding the 42-billion-baht project.
His ministry will be the first to decide whether to give the project’s operator, Airports of Thailand (AoT), the go-ahead after the AoT board gave it the green light amid opposition from experts.
The AoT, together with the Highways Department and State Railway of Thailand (SRT), will be called to answer all questions, Mr Saksayam said, referring especially to the expansion plan’s “higher expenses”.
The minister’s chief concern is whether the expansion plan will mean highways officials have to spend 37.5 billion baht to build an 18.5-kilometre motorway linking the airport with Srinakarin Road.
He also wants to know if the upgrade will add costs to the 224-billion-baht high-speed railway project to link Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports, which the SRT has awarded to a Charoen Pokphand Group-led consortium.
“We have to make things clear on every issue,” Mr Saksayam said, insisting he would only back the project if he got satisfactory answers.
His approval is needed before the plan can be forwarded to the National Economic and Social Development Council and the cabinet.
Opponents want the AoT to stick to its master plan for the construction of a new terminal to the south of the airport, rather than expanding the existing terminal. They argue the airport extension has been poorly designed and will do little to relieve overcapacity at Suvarnabhumi.
AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said earlier the AoT had consulted stakeholders, global aviation organisations and travellers, who all agreed the master plan could be modified.
The southern terminal plan has not been abandoned, he added, but instead incorporated into the planned 2025-2030 airport expansion.