THAILAND AIRPORT EXPANSION REFLECTS GROWING PASSENGER NUMBERS

Managing Thailand’s six international airports – Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hat Yai – the Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) continues to push improvements to the Kingdom’s air transport infrastructure. Acknowledging how important the tourism industry is to Thailand’s economy, AOT’s latest initiatives concentrate on facilitating the movement of air travellers through its airports which, in 2016 accommodated 132 scheduled airline numbers covering more than 150 international and 30 domestic destinations. Translating to over 790,000 aircraft movements and 122 million passengers, that represented a significant increase year-on-year, with the top arrivals from Asia and Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Predicting continued growth, and with an emphasis on Thailand’s ongoing development, the Suvarnabhumi Airport Development Project has been launched to increase the airport’s capacity from 45 million to 60 million passengers per year.

The project is scheduled to be completed by 2019, which means there will be some disruption in the short term – including current partial closures of runways – but the long term benefits will be substantial. Likewise, the ongoing Phuket International Airport Development Project – which aimed to double Phuket’s passenger capacity – saw a new international terminal open in September 2016. One of AOT’s roles is to ensure these projects operate in parallel with social care for local communities, and within strict guidelines for environmental conservation