In a recent article by “The Nation”, Rear-Admiral Luechai Sri-Eamgool in his capacity as the Airport Authority Director for Utapao International Airport is purported to have stated that passenger arrivals have exceed the 1 million mark, which is a significant increase from the 700,000 passenger arrivals the year before. The Rear-Admiral then went onto announce that passenger arrivals are expected to reach 2 million by the end of this year and to back up his statement he then went on to point out that in the first four months of this current fiscal year (October 2017 to January 2018) the number of passenger arrivals had already equalled and/or exceeded the 700,000 mark.
Despite the recent completion of the new international passenger terminal which can handle 3 million passengers per fiscal year, 80% of which is primarily geared to handling regional budget travelers via “Air-Asia”. Thus forcing other regional players such as “Nok-Air” and “Thai Lion Air” to sit up and take notice. As such these regional players have chosen to follow suit by using Utapao International Airport as their base of operations for charter flights to “Yinchaun”, “Haikou”, Changsha” and “Linyi” in China.
Added to this is the recent announcement by “Qatar Airways” who now has 4 flights per week linking Utapao International Airport to their main regional hub in Doha, Qatar which in turn services more than 150 world destinations.
Thus, given that the recently completed terminal is already in danger of exceeding it’s passenger carrying capacity of 3 million tourist arrivals and departures for obvious reasons, plans are currently in the works for a further 200 Billion Thai Baht airport expansion to handle 15 million, yes you heard right 15 million passengers which I’m sure you’ll agree is a mind boggling increase. Just think about the future economic implications that this will have on tourist related businesses and residential property within the region.
Plans are currently being drawn up and this process is expected to be completed by early next year. Once the planning phase has been completed the project will then be put out to tender, and as such the international bidding process should hopefully begin. The plan also includes provisions for air-cargo handling facilities, an aviation training centre together with an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul centre and a new runway with construction expected to be completed within 5 Years.
The proposed U-tapao International Airport scheme is an integral part of the overall Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) strategy which is targeted towards 10 high profile industries across numerous industrial parks alongside the Thai eastern seaboard. If that weren’t impressive enough Secretary General Kanit Sangsubhan of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) initiative then went on to mention that a high-speed railway network was also in the works to connect U-tapao International Airport to both Dong Muang and Suvarnabhumi Airports in Bangkok.
Travel times by high-speed rail are intended to be around 45 minutes and this will go a long way towards reducing road traffic congestion and work in conjunction with the main Bangkok aviation hubs which are already overtaxed. This plan is intended to work in conjunction with numerous other massive infrastructure developments such as the Laem Chabang phase 3 port expansion which you can read about in more detail by clicking on the before-mentioned link. The Secretary-General ended by saying that 21 industrial parks covering more than 23,000 Rai have also been earmarked for further investment.