Bangkok airports aim to surpass Changi in capacity

The combined capacity of airports in the greater Bangkok area will exceed that of Singapore’s Changi Airport once their expansions are complete and they can handle as many as 190 million passengers a year, Thai transport officials said last week.

The three Bangkok-area airports will fuel the Kingdom’s economy, tourism, and make Thailand a premier aviation hub.

Thailand has long been one of the transport and logistics leaders in East and Southeast Asia but aspires to overtake Singapore for the top position in ASEAN, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The prime motivation for the airport building boom is the need to serve and support the growing Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) advanced development zone. Adjacent to the capital, the EEC is crucial to Thailand 4.0 the 20-year national strategy to create a more innovative and higher-technology economy.

“In order to promote advanced industries, we need the new infrastructure,” said Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

The expansions and upgrades at the three international airports will take 20 years to complete, according to the government. Bangkok’s main airport Suvarnabhumi International will double its capacity to 90 million passengers a year from the current 45 million. Don Muang Airport in Bangkok will increase capacity to 40 million from 30 million passengers a year.

U-Tapao airport, just southeast of the capital and inside the EEC will experience the largest jump in capacity from 300,000 now to 60 million. Formerly a military airportม the government has committed to a major redevelopment of U-Tapao.

The result would be annual capacity at all three airports totaling 190 million passengers, significantly larger than the 150 million expected at Changi in 2030 when it completes if fifth terminal.

All three airports in the Bangkok area will be connected by a high-speed rail link, making them one air transport ecosystem. That rail line is slated for completion in 2023, the same year U-Tapao is expected to handle 15 million passengers because of the first phase of its upgrade.