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Thailand plans major airport expansion

Thailand plans major airport expansion

Major upgrades are planned for Bangkok airports (photo courtesy Unsplash)

Hot on the heels of Dubai’s announcement this week that it is set to build the largest airport in the world, Airports of Thailand (AOT) has revealed plans for a US$4.8bn airport expansion in Thailand.

As Thailand looks to cement its position as a regional aviation hub, AOT says it plans to more than double the capacity of Bangkok’s airports by the end of the decade.

The Thai capital’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi, will receive two new runways, a new terminal and an expansion of the existing passenger terminal. Capacity will increase from the current 60 million passengers per year to 135 million.

Meanwhile a new international terminal is planned for Don Mueang airport as well as renovation of the existing terminal. This will raise passenger numbers from 30 million to around 50 million by 2030.

Two new airports are also on the cards as Thailand’s prime minister, Strettha Thavisin, determines to build on Thailand’s reputation as a tourist hotspot and turn the country into a regional aviation hub. The proposed new airports would be for Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and in the Andamans to further support the popular holiday island of Phuket.

Feasibility studies for Lanna Airport in the north and Andaman Airport in the south should be completed this year, with construction planned to start in 2027. Thavisin is also exploring the possibility of a single entry visa system with five other Southeast Asian countries to attract tourists to the region. 

As well as new terminals, Thailand is looking to smooth the travel process for its millions of visitors. Currently, streamlining immigration has cut waiting times at check-in and security by about half an hour and adding automated immigration gates in October this year should smooth procedures further still.

Tourist levels are almost back to pre-pandemic levels, with around 35 million visitors expected this year. Thavisin hopes to push this number to around 80 million by 2027.

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