Suvarnabhumi set to expand into a mega-airport

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Suvarnabhumi set to expand into a mega-airport

After handling 46.4 million passengers and 289,568 aircraft movements in 2014, Suvarnabhumi international airport is being primed to begin its long-delayed expansion.

The so-called phase two expansion had been due to take place soon after the airport opened officially in September 2006, but the various political crises since then delayed the necessary upgrade. This expansion will be additional to the planned upgrade which will take place in August.

The time frame for the completion of the two expansion phases is by 2020, and at that point Suvarnabhumi will be propelled into the ranks of the world’s so-called mega-airports, with a yearly capacity of around 85 million people.

The present airport setup is already operating beyond its capacity (which, of course, is one of the reasons for the re-opening of Don Muang as an international facility), but over the next six years it should once again be able to handle the expected loads placed upon it.

According to the official website for Suvarnabhumi (www.suvarnabhumiairport.com), the terminal can accommodate 45 million passengers per annum while the cargo terminal is capable of clearing around three million tons per year. That information has not been updated, apparently, since 2011, so the amount of cargo being transited through the Duty Free Zone allocated to handle it may well be even higher now.

The need to move on the expansion of the airport was made evident in 2012 when the facility handled a massive 53 million passengers.

The Airports of Thailand (AoT) management has stated they have 44 billion baht in cash at the present time and so the expansions will not place a fiscal strain on the operator.

Suvarnabhumi will have a second passenger terminal capable of handling 20 million passengers a year and a third runway, which will initially be 2.9 kilometres in length and later be extended to 3.7 kilometres.

It is estimated the first part of the expansion will cost around 47.9 billion baht while the final costs will total more than 109 billion baht by 2020.

The second phase of the expansion had been officially approved by the cabinet in August 2010, but the military coup of May 2014 had put a halt to any work commencing until such time as the issue of costs had been verified and approved by the Transport Ministry and the National Economic and Social Development Board.

Work on part one of the second phase is slated to begin in March 2016, while part two is scheduled for an October 2017 start.

The first stage involves construction of a remote apron covering 960,000 square metres of land that will be capable of taking 28 airliners, including eight planes the size of the A380 superjumbo. It will also have an operation support tunnel and the usual utilities.

The second stage will include the construction of a satellite passenger terminal, as well as the construction of an airline office building and eastern car park. The main terminal’s eastern wing will be extended and an automated people mover will be installed, linking the satellite terminal to the main terminal.  

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