1st phase of U-tapao revamp faces delay
Impact of pandemic causes 2-year setback
The first phase of the new U-tapao international airport is likely to face a delay of two years because of the pandemic's impact, according to U-Tapao International Aviation Company Ltd (UTA).
The first phase could be finished in 2026 as the company has to adjust the construction process because of a lower growth rate of passengers during the pandemic, said Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, president of Bangkok Airways and a representative of UTA.
The first phase was previously supposed to be completed in 2024 with a carrying capacity of 15.9 million passengers a year, featuring a 157,000-square-metre terminal, 60 airplane parking lots, commercial space and a ground transportation centre.
Mr Puttipong said the project initially divided into four phases might be extended to six phases.
The rejigged U-tapao airport is a joint venture between BBS consortium, including Bangkok Airways, and the government's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Policy Committee, under a 50-year concession.
The project aims to handle more than 60 million passengers a year.
The construction previously planned the groundbreaking for this year, but its start has been delayed to next year, he said. Mr Puttipong said the company is still waiting for several issues to be cleared, notably approval of the environmental impact assessment, the second runway construction and a high-speed train contract.
Construction of all phases could be delayed for 4-5 years, but the duration of the concession remains the same.
He said the contract will not be changed and only a few details need to be discussed. These include how the design of terminals will be adjusted to increase flexibility in terms of function, while remaining capable of accommodating the same target number of passengers.
Whenever the number of passengers reaches 80% of the target in each phase, construction of the next phase will immediately begin, said Mr Puttipong.
He said the 14.3 billion baht earned from the Bangkok Airways Airport Leasehold Real Estate Investment Trust (BAREIT) will be used for investment in the U-tapao project.
With the EEC looking for a new secretary, Mr Puttipong said the outcome won't affect the project construction as he believes the EEC will continue as planned.