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Thai government to increase capacity in four airports – 200 M arrivals by 2031

suvarnabhumi airport traffic
PHOTO: Suvarnabhumi Airport traffic to increase

“International Air Transport Association’s prediction that there will be roughly 200 million foreign arrivals in 2031 to Thailand.”

The government of Thailand is taking steps to upgrade at least four of its international airports to accommodate a projected increase in foreign tourist traffic. Despite the current tourist numbers being around half of the average arrival numbers of 2019, the government is confident the tourists will start returning and says they expect 80 million tourists per year by 2027 – double the total arrivals in 2019, the last year before the pandemic.

Deputy Government Spokeswoman Traisulee Taisaranakul, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has predicted that the number of foreign arrivals will reach pre-Covid levels by 2024, prompting the need for the expansion of these airports. This is also in line with the International Air Transport Association’s prediction that there will be roughly 200 million foreign arrivals in 2031 to Thailand! (Where in earth will they all fit?!)

The four major airport expansion projects are as follows:

• Phuket International Airport Phase 2: The goal of this project is to increase passenger capacity from 12.5 million to 18 million per annum. This will be accomplished through the expansion of the international terminal, aircraft hangars, and basic infrastructure. Airports of Thailand Plc, which runs the airports, is currently in the process of selecting an advisory firm to help set the details of the project.

• Don Mueang International Airport Phase 3: Approved by the Cabinet in November of last year, the construction of the third terminal, runway, aircraft hangar, and warehouse building is set to begin this year and will be completed in 2029. The airport will also see upgrades to basic facilities such as car parks, roads, and drainage systems. Upon completion, the airport will be able to accommodate 40 million passengers per annum, up from the current 30 million.

• Expansion of the U-Tapao International Airport in Rayong: This expansion will occur in four phases and will conclude in 2055, increasing the airport’s capacity to 60 million passengers per annum. The first phase is set to be completed in 2024 and will allow for 15.9 million passengers per annum.

• Suvarnabhumi International Airport Phase 2: The construction of the Satellite Airport Terminal – 1 (SAT-1) has been completed and the Transport Ministry will begin using the new terminal this year, increasing the airport’s capacity from 45 million to 60 million passengers per annum. The airport is also building a third runway, which is due to be completed in 2024, which will allow it to receive 94 flights per hour, up from the current 68.

In conclusion, the Thai government is making efforts to expand its international airports in response to a predicted increase in foreign tourist traffic in the post-pandemic era. The upgrades will increase capacity, improve basic facilities, and ensure that the airports are equipped to handle the projected rise in arrivals.

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