Mr Chadchart visited Phuket International Airport to see for himself the congestion; the airport’s designed capacity is 6.5 million passengers in and out per year but it is currently handling an annual flow of 9.1 million.
Airports of Thailand (AoT) began construction in October with a budget of B5.7 billion, with the work scheduled to be finished in February next year. Apparently construction is already behind schedule, hence the minister’s speed-up order.
When completed, the expansion will allow the airport to handle 12.5 million passenger movements a year.
However, if each year sees similar growth as the past year’s 11 per cent, the revamped airport will reach capacity at about the same time as the modifications are completed, leading one local pundit to remark that it will be “dead on arrival”.
In addition to expansion of the terminal, the work will include expanding the length of taxiway and enlarging the car park from 500 to 1,500 parking spaces.
No mention has yet been made of how Immigration Police plan to staff up to handle the rapidly increasing number of passengers – currently a recurrent bottleneck in the airport.
Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction is the main contractor for the expansion project.
Further into the future an additional runway is being planned but no date has been announced when this will become reality.