Krabi aiport to be expanded

Krabi aiport to be expanded

Officials say they have to expand Krabi airport to allow more budget airlines in order to boost mass tourism. (Creative Commons via Wikipedia)
Officials say they have to expand Krabi airport to allow more budget airlines in order to boost mass tourism. (Creative Commons via Wikipedia)

The Department of Airports plans to expand Krabi airport's capacity to serve the increasing number of flights from low-cost airlines.

Chula Sukmanop, the department chief, said the expansion plan will be completed in June this year. It will involve an urgent plan to improve and enlarge the facility's service areas as well as increase the number of runways and parking bays.

The move is in line with Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith's policy which aims to use Krabi airport as a back-up facility to serve flights that avoid nearby and overcrowded Phuket airport.

Krabi airport was originally built to handle three million passengers a year but the number keeps rising.

The number of passengers using the airport last year surged 30% from the year before, Mr Chula said. The upgrade will cost more than 2.5 billion baht from the 2017-2018 budget.

Mr Chula said the department hired a consultant to study a 10-year plan for the development of airports nationwide. It is expected to wrap up next year, he said.

Citing an initial survey, Mr Chula said the department's airports are now doing better financially as budget airlines have launched more flights to regional areas.

The department also plans a new airport in Yala's Betong district. The cabinet has approved a 1.9-billion-baht budget for the project, which will start this year and run to 2018, when it will open.

The airport, which will have a 1.8km runway, is expected to handle 300,000 passengers a year.

Mr Chula said an airport in Betong will relieve access problems in the district and be convenient for tourists.

Mr Arkhom said the construction of Phuket airport's new passenger terminal is complete and the facility will open in June.

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