Phuket: A plan for the expansion of Phuket International Airport is now in its design phase, with costs expected to total at least 6 billion baht, said the Airports of Thailand (AoT).
AoT President Kerati Kijmanawat on Saturday said the expansion was the main focus of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's visit last week.
Also discussed was the transfer of Krabi Airport from the Department of Airports and the construction of a new airport in Koh Phangnga.
Phuket International Airport's plan includes the expansion of its international terminal building, which is expected to double passenger handling capacity to 12 million a year.
The number will be added to the domestic terminal's capacity, bringing the airport's maximum capacity to 18 million passengers a year.
Mr Kerati said the expansion was considered an emergency as passenger numbers increase again following the end of the pandemic.
"The plan is now in the design and development phase, which will take at least a year. The work is expected to cost at least six billion baht and will be fully operational in 2027,'' said Mr Kerati.
Meanwhile, the number of passengers for this year's high season is expected to be no more than 90% of the 18 million people the airport welcomed in 2019, said airport director Monchai Tanode.
Up to 50,000 tourists on 310–320 flights a day are expected by the end of this year, said Mr Monchai, who added that he hopes the premier's proposal to waive their visa fees will also boost numbers of Chinese visitors.