12/01/14

Extension plans for airport in Phuket nixed despite necessity

Renovations of Phuket International Airport were expected to be finished by 2015, but military government of Thailand decided to cancel the renovations to save money

Phuket International Airport is one of the most important resources for the local tourist industry, handling a record 11.3 million arrivals and departures in 2013 – an 18% increase over the previous year. That’s why a renovation plan was put in motion to increase maximum capacity of the airport and improve technical facilities, including construction of a brand new international terminal and modernisation of the existing one so it can be used for domestic flights in the future. However, it now appears that second phase of the project will never be completed after the works were halted due to financial reasons by state officials.

State budget monitoring and scrutinising committee demanded to review the financial plans for the new airport and deemed the remaining 60 billion baht of expected expenses to be too much. The committee agreed with relevance and urgency of the airport upgrades, since the crowds at Phuket International Airport are almost too large to handle during peak months of the tourist season. Despite this conclusion, the controlling body appointed by the ruling junta and led by Lt. Gen Anantaporn Kanchanarat ultimately deemed the plan too costly and delayed execution of the second phase indefinitely. 

At the other hand, head of Airports of Thailand (AoT) Makin Petplai expressed intentions to comply with committee’s decision and stop the currently ongoing bidding process by consultancy companies, while doing whatever possible to alleviate the congestions at the Phuket International Airport. He also signalled readiness to alter the construction plans if the junta so demanded while pledging absolute transparency of the process. According to AoT chief, improvements to Terminal 2 at Don Mueang will be finished by the end of this year and increase that airport’s capacity from 18 million passengers to 30 million. Second phase of renovations at Suvarnabhumi airport, originally intended to start this year, will be delayed until late 2015.

Meanwhile, total number of passengers continues to rise and cause concerns about overcapacity operation of major Thai airports. After a 9.5% spike in traffic in 2013, another 2-3% jump can be expected for this year based on current projections, putting additional pressure on existing infrastructure. However, it is unclear how much AoT will be able to do to accommodate all the customers with junta’s restrictions on spending keeping the company’s hands tied.

 It is possible that security expenses are eating up some of the funds of renovations, since AoT plans to spend 1.3 billion baht of budget funds in 2015 to beef up defences against terrorism, natural disasters and contagious diseases. More than 60% of this sum is reserved for four major air traffic hubs – Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket and Hat Yai, while Phuket International 


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Extension plans for airport in Phuket nixed despite necessity

Renovations of Phuket International Airport were expected to be finished by 2015, but military government of Thailand decided to cancel the renovations to save moneyPhuket International Airport is one of the most important resources for the local tourist industry, handling ......





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