Airports boss unveils B5.8bn plans

Airports boss unveils B5.8bn plans

Nationwide upgrade an 'urgent' mission

A Thai AirAsia jet takes off from Krabi airport. The 1.3-billion-baht construction of taxiways at Krabi airport is planned by the Department of Airports. (Post Today photo)
A Thai AirAsia jet takes off from Krabi airport. The 1.3-billion-baht construction of taxiways at Krabi airport is planned by the Department of Airports. (Post Today photo)

The Department of Airports (DoA) is gearing up to spend 5.8 billion baht upgrading airports across the country next year under the new leadership of acting director-general Thawi Kesi-samang.

Mr Thawi began his job on Monday, launching what he called an "urgent mission" for huge investment in key regional airports.

"I want to speed up work as soon as I assume the post," Mr Thawi said, after being briefed on airport development projects by his subordinates.

"I plan to conduct bids for the projects from early next year."

Among them are the 1.3-billion-baht construction of taxiways at Krabi airport, 800-million-baht and and 775-million-baht plans to build new terminals at Narathiwat and Buri Ram airports respectively and projects to expand airport bays (500 million baht) and an international terminal (200 million baht) at Surat Thani airport.

There was also urgent need to step up construction of a new airport in Yala's Betong district, said Mr Thawi, noting it is scheduled to open in the middle of next year.

"I also want to deal with all the airport [projects] which are facing delays," he said.

Mr Thawi was reportedly handed his aviation mission thanks to a strong reputation for achieving performance targets in his previous job.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob apparently admires him for meeting goals in road building while Mr Thawi worked at the Highways Department.

"Mr Saksayam likes this working style," said a source at the Department of Airports, adding the minister wants him to oversee the 10-year airport development plan worth 35 billion baht.

Up to 27 billion baht of the budget will be allocated for major upgrades at 17 airports between 2019 and 2022.

The rest will go to further airport development until 2027.

During recent talks between Mr Thawi and Mr Saksayam, the minister also proposed extending the runway length at 38 airports from 2,100 to 2,400 metres to serve large aircraft.

Asked about a proposal to transfer four airports -- Krabi, Udon Thani, Tak and Buri Ram -- to the private sector, Mr Thawi said only that there were a number of ways to do it and he would choose the one that best matched the public interest.

The source also dismissed reports that Mr Thawi's appointment had disappointed some DoA officials since he was an aviation outsider, insisting that all staff at the DoA are ready to work with Mr Thawi for the sake of the national interest.

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