U-Tapao to become Bangkok's 3rd commercial airport

U-Tapao to become Bangkok's 3rd commercial airport

Navy chief Adm Kraisorn Jansuwanit (left) exchanges copies of the agreement to upgrade U-Tapao airport with Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong at the Transport Ministry on Wednesday. (Photo by Amornrat Mahitthirook)
Navy chief Adm Kraisorn Jansuwanit (left) exchanges copies of the agreement to upgrade U-Tapao airport with Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong at the Transport Ministry on Wednesday. (Photo by Amornrat Mahitthirook)

The Transport Ministry and the navy signed an agreement on Wednesday to upgrade U-Tapao airport in Rayong province so that it can handle some of Bangkok's traffic next year.

Navy commander-in-chief Kraisorn Jansuwanit signed the memorandum of cooperation with Transport Minister Prajin Juntong at the Transport Ministry in Bangkok. It sets conditions to have the navy's U-Tapao airport actively serve both security operations and commercial flights from June 1, 2016.

By next year U-Tapao will have a new passenger terminal worth about 200 million baht. The new building together with its existing terminal will raise its passenger capacity from 800,000 to 3 million per year. Between 2018 and 2020, its capacity will increase to 5 million passengers.

"Congestion at Suvarnabhumi airport requires the quick upgrade of U-Tapao airport so that it can serve more flights because Suvarnabhumi airport will be under renovation. Airlines will be invited to use U-Tapao airport as well, ACM Prajin said.

The navy would be responsible for air traffic control and ground services while Thai Airways International would be ready to provide support when asked. The Transport Ministry will improve transport systems from Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports to U-Tapao, he said.

He expects more scheduled and chartered flights to visit U-Tapao, especially from Europe, Russia and China.

U-Tapao airport director Rr Adm Wasinsan Janthawarin said the airport was handling almost 200,000 passengers and about 400 flights yearly. Most of them are chartered flights from China and Russia.

Bangkok Airways was operating scheduled flights and late this year AirAsia will introduce flights from U-Tapao to six destinations in China, he said.

The navy will spend 200 million baht on the new terminal and seek 800 million baht from the government to pay for relevant facilities.


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