Suvarnabhumi expansion advances

Capacity gain to 60m slated for 2018

The long-awaited expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport, which should have been completed by now, looks poised to commence this year.

A proposed schematic of airport expansion including the construction of a second passenger terminal (in pink) and 700-metre APM (in blue and red) blended with current facilities.

If all goes as planned, the 62.5-billion-baht programme, adding sorely needed capacity to the congested airport, will be a step closer to reality when a project management consultant (PMC) is appointed next month.

The Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) board is expected to endorse at its May 17 meeting one of the three firms vying for the lead role in the project.

The appointment of the PMC will get the expansion programme rolling and allow the next stages of development, such as finalising the design and choosing contractors, to begin, according to Somchai Sawasdeepon, general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The process of selecting the PMC was delayed a number of times due to complications and technicalities.

In the first round of bidding, only one company submitted a proposal. A single participant in the selection process was deemed insufficient.

In the second round, two bidders entered but one was disqualified because of errors in the filing documents submitted, which again left only a single bidder.

The third round has attracted three firms _ PCBK International, Index International and TEAM Consulting Engineering and Management. The tender is for work AoT estimates will cost 763 million baht.

Somchai: Will try to shorten timetable

Mr Somchai, also senior executive vice-president of AoT, said the state-controlled airport is still evaluating the proposals from the three bidders.

The expansion of Suvarnabhumi, which was supposed to commence soon after the airport was opened in September 2006, has been delayed largely by the government's inability to formulate a long-term airport policy. It has been debating what to do with Don Mueang airport and whether the facility should be used to take the pressure off Suvarnabhumi.

No decision has been reached on the matter, but the Suvarnabhumi expansion programme was nevertheless given the go-ahead in August 2010 and has progressed quite slowly since then.

The construction required to increase capacity will take six years, though Mr Somchai told the Bangkok Post that AoT, realising the urgency of enlarging the airport, will try to shorten the development period.

Congestion at Suvarnabhumi, one of Asia's busiest airports, has been worsening. The facility is currently running beyond its designed capacity of 45 million passengers per year.

Passenger throughput last year was 47.2 million and the number is expected to rise to 51 million this year.

Once completed, the expansion project will increase Suvarnabhumi's passenger handling capacity by 15 million to 60 million.

A basic blueprint for the expansion calls for the construction of a satellite passenger terminal linked to the current main passenger terminal by an automated people mover (APM). The plan also includes the extension of the existing main passenger terminal and car park buildings, though there will no third runway built.

The expansion will be true to the design and themes of the current terminal. According to the basic outline, the satellite terminal will have a total of 28 gates, with eight of them capable of handling the double-decker A380 superjumbo.

The future and current terminals will be linked by an underground tunnel, 51 metres in width and 700 metres in length.

Inside the tunnel, there will be the APM system, two service roads, two baggage conveyors and space for utilities.

The expansion programme will include a new 960,000-square-metre apron constructed for aircraft parking and manoeuvering.

The eastern end of the current passenger terminal will be extended by 135 metres and a new airline office building will be constructed.

About the author

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Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business