U-TAPAO International Airport passenger numbers are expected to double this year and new cash injection of Bt200 billion to expand the airport’s capacity under the Eastern Economic Corridor Initiative (EEC) is expected to start next year, government authorities say.

Last year, arrivals at the airport were one million, up from 700,000 from the year before, U-Tapao Airport Authority director Rear Admiral Luechai Sri-Eamgool said. This year the number of arrivals would reach two million.

In the first four months of the current fiscal year (October-January) the number of arrivals was about 700,000, he said.



Terms of reference are being drafted for a new investment plan to expand the capacity from three million passengers to 15 million, and the terms will be completed by the end of this year.

Government will use the public-private partnership (PPP) mode to reduce the budget burden.

A master plan for the development of the whole airport is expected to be completed early next year. Then, international bidding will begin for construction. The project will include a new runway, air-cargo facilities, an aviation training centre, and an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul centre, with combined land use of up to 6,500 rai (1,040 hectares).

It will take about five years for construction to be completed. The new airport will be connected by high-speed rail to the two international airports in Bangkok – Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi, said Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC office.

Return on the investment could be realised within 15 years, he said, adding that the u-Tapao plans would lead to the development of an “aviation city” spanning 30 kilometres, covering parts of Rayong province and the eastern resort of city of Pattaya.

In the long term, the airport could expand its capacity to accommodate 60 million passengers a year, equivalent to Suvarnabhumi’s capacity, he said.

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Source: The Nation