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AoT Eyes Internal Rail Line At Don Mueang Airport

Bangkok, Thu Feb 23 2017
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Airports of Thailand (AoT) Plc plans to introduce an internal rail system at Don Mueang Airport, worth at least one billion baht, to boost the airport's capacity to handle increasing passenger numbers.

AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said the system, known as an Automatic People Mover (APM), should ease congestion at the airport which has also caused traffic jams outside. The AoT board, chaired by Prasong Poontaneat, has asked the AoT to conduct a feasibility study into the APM, he said, adding the study should be completed in six months and the findings submitted to the board.

Mr Nitinai said the APM is initially planned as a rail system with a length of six to eight kilometres running from the north of the airport to the south passing Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and the car park building. The rail system, to be offered free, would connect with the Red Line, Rangsit-Bang Sue project.

The APM project would not be part of the long-term airport development so there is no need to conduct an environment/health (EHIA) impact assessment study, according to Mr Nitinai.

While the investment cost has yet to be determined, the project would likely cost about one billion baht and take three years to complete, he said. According to Mr Nitinai, the AoT board has also approved the revision of a plan for the development of six airports over the next 10 years worth 200 billion baht.

Under the plan, development priority will be given to airports with increasing air traffic. Once implemented, the six airports will be able to handle 200 million people by 2025, up from the 83.5 million people they handle now. The plan will be forwarded to the Transport Ministry and the cabinet for consideration.

Under the revised plan, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai airports will be first on the list in August 2017 followed by Don Mueang in November 2017, Chiang Rai's Mae Fah Luang airport and Phuket will follow in June 2018.

The AoT board has also approved a plan to hire a company to design a second passenger terminal for Suvarnabhumi airport through a bidding process. The bidding is expected to be held in March under a budget of 308 million baht.

According to Mr Nitinai, the agency has 60 billion baht in funds which is enough to fund its investment projects. However, if the investment plans proceed as scheduled the AoT will be cash-strapped during 2018-2019 and would have to seek short-term loans. The agency has yet to finalise its commercial development plan covering 5,000-6,000 rai at the six airports pending talks with the Treasury Department over the rental fee models at Suvarnabhumi airport, he said.

The department has proposed two rental fee models for non-aero areas at Suvarnabhumi airport, namely, a 5% revenue-sharing fee and a 3% fee based on returns on assets. The AoT is holding talks over the rental fees following the expiry of its 10-year rental contract with the Treasury Department.

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