Suvarnabhumi Airport will get $4.3 billion expansion

The operator of Thailand’s premier international gateway, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, will invest $4.3 billion to build a third terminal and fourth runway to handle up to 150 million passengers a year by 2030 as part of the fourth phase of its expansion.

Airports of Thailand (AoT), the publicly listed company that manages the six busiest airports in the Kingdom, said the relentless rise in traffic and passengers made another expansion imperative. The firm is nearing completion of the second phase of its building program to boost annual capacity to 60 million passengers by next year, which will be followed by a third phase to handle 90 million. The airport opened in 2006 with a capacity of 45 million.

The need to add more terminals and runways is a testament to Thailand’s increasing importance as an air transport and logistics hub in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the Kingdom’s growing significance as a destination for tourists and businesspeople. Thailand’s government supports aviation, aerospace, and logistics as part of its 20-year national strategy for advanced development dubbed Thailand 4.0.

Although AoT executives admit the company is straining to meet surging traffic, rising revenues from the boom in flights and passengers have bolstered its coffers providing it with the funds required to undergo further expansion. AoT business outlook has sent its stock soaring, and in January, Bloomberg Business News reported that the company had become the most valuable airport services provider in the world, surpassing Aena SA of Spain.

Besides Suvarnabhumi, AoT manages five other international airports: Don Muang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Hat Yai. The company was a state enterprise known as the Airports Authority of Thailand before the government privatized it in 2002.

Suvarnabhumi is part of a three-airport eco-system serving the greater Bangkok area and the Eastern Economic Corridor, a three-province advanced development zone adjacent to the capital.

The three airports are Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang, and U-Tapao. The latter is a former military airbase undergoing renovation and a massive expansion so that it can eventually serve as many as 60 million passengers a year. The government is also planning a light-rail system designed to link all three airports seamlessly.