Further Development Of U Tapao Airport Being Considered
Even as the 1.7 billion baht expansion of U Tapao Airport, including a new terminal, are yet to be completed even more ambitious development plans for the Rayong based airport are being considered.
The proposals would include a second runway and an even newer, larger passenger terminal as part of plans to create an air hub on the east coast to compliment Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, serving Bangkok.
This month, the newly created U Tapao Airport Authority (UAA), which has been set up to run the airport, will commission a Los Angeles based airport consultancy to draw up a proposal for the next phase of U Tapao's development.
UAA director Worapol Tongpricha said a second runway, running parallel at a distance of 1.3 kilometres from the existing runway could, potentially, be built first. The new runway would be the same size as the current one, 3,500 metres in length and 60 metres in width, and is estimated to cost a further 8 billion baht.
A new terminal capable of handling 15 million passengers a year may come later, with the timing aimed to match passenger traffic growth projections made by industry experts.
UAA expects the number of passengers passing through the airport, located in the Navy Zone in Rayong, to reach 1.2 million this year, up from 710,000 last year and a meagre 170,000 the year before.
While the government has called U Tapao “Thailand's third air hub” the UAA chief said there would be little competition between U Tapao, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang - “The vision is to see the three international airports expand and grow together” he said.
Currently, the new 20,000 sqm terminal is waiting for the installation of IT systems, the delivery of two aerobridges, some fine-tuning for things already in place and finishing touches on the commercial area by concessionaires before it can be opened for passenger use.
The new, second terminal at U Tapao Airport, is scheduled to be fully operational in August this year, after some delays. Once the new passenger terminal is open, the old terminal will be transformed into an office for airlines and general aviation companies.