Govt targets 150 million passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport

Govt targets 150 million passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport

Suvarnabhumi will have a third runway by October, says Srettha

Passengers check the flight status board at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province in February 2024. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Passengers check the flight status board at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province in February 2024. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The government plans to more than double the annual capacity at its main Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan to 150 million passengers, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Friday.

The country's main airport, which currently handles 60 million passengers, will also add a third runway, allowing the airport to handle 90 flights per hour, up from 60 flights per hour, by October this year, he said at an event announcing the government's plans to upgrade the country's airports.

The prime minister did not say how much the expansion will cost and how it will be funded.

"Suvarnabhumi will become a top 50 airport by next year," said Mr Srettha, also the finance minister. It is currently ranked 68 in the Skytrax World Airport Awards. The government wants Suvarnabhumi to be ranked among the world’s top 20 within five years, he added.

Passengers and tourists on social media have complained about airport's long immigration and check-in lines.

Mr Srettha said Don Mueang airport in Bangkok will also see capacity rise from 30 million to 50 million passengers each year, with construction of a new terminal for international passengers and expansion of the existing facilities.

Officials prepare to welcome passengers at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok's Don Mueang district. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The government also plans to upgrade regional airports to support tourism, a key driver of Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, as well as build new ones in other tourist hot spots, such as the Andaman region, he said.

In the South, Phuket airport will increase capacity to 18 million passengers from 12.5 million annually, including plans to build a new airport, the prime minister said, adding that the northern airport in Chiang Mai will double its annual capacity to 16.5 million by 2029.

"Thailand can become an aviation hub and upgrading airports will be good for the economy," Mr Srettha said.

The prime minister added that Thailand's strategic location in the heart of the Asia Pacific region, bordered by three neighbouring countries, and its benefit from the Asean open skies policy are key factors which will drive the aviation hub initiatives. 

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin listens to a briefing by an Immigration Bureau officer at Suvarnabhumi airport during a surprise inspection in February 2024. (Photo: @Thavisin X account)

Prommin Lertsuridej, secretary-general to the prime minister, said on Thursday that to position Thailand as an aviation hub, the government is set to utilise the capabilities and assets of Thais to develop existing airports and invest in the expansion of new airports.

State-controlled Airports of Thailand (AOT), the operator of the nation’s six major airports, earlier said it planned to invest around 100 billion baht (US$2.8 billion) between 2024 and 2029 for capacity addition. The nation’s second-biggest company by market value has said new investment will be mainly funded from internal cash flow. 

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