Already a year late, new U-Tapao passenger terminal stalled on runway

Friday, 13 June 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 24 By  Jetsada Homklin

Already a year behind schedule, construction of a new passenger terminal at U-Tapao-Pattaya International Airport has stalled with no estimate on when work will begin again.

Royal Thai Navy officials in 2011 approved an 868 million baht budget to transform the military air field in Rayong into a modern civilian airport. The expansion called for not only a new terminal capable of handling 1,500 passengers per hour, but new parking facilities, fuel depot, fire-fighting systems, x-ray machines and improvements to other equipment and landscaping.

An artist’s rendering of U-Tapao-Pattaya International Airport where construction of a new passenger terminal has stalled with no estimate on when work will begin again.An artist’s rendering of U-Tapao-Pattaya International Airport where construction of a new passenger terminal has stalled with no estimate on when work will begin again.

Nearly three years later, only the fuel, fire and x-ray equipment has been purchased, along with a new radar system and improvements to a warehouse. Work in the 25,200 sq. meter terminal halted after the foundation was laid. Not even a single wall has been erected.

Budgeted for 468 million baht, work on the terminal was supposed to have been finished in June 2013. But the project’s original contractor first said it could not deliver the terminal on time, then insisted the budget was too small to do the job at all. The contractor was fired and work stopped while the project was put out for bid again.

The Sri Karnyotha Co. won the new bid at 619.2 million baht. Officials said plans for the building also changed, with the terminal said to be larger so it can be a true alternative to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. No dimensions for the revised terminal were released.

Following last month’s military coup, funding for the project has been put in limbo. The terminal-construction budget has been submitted to the National Center for Peace and Order, but there is no estimate of when, or if, it will be approved.

Pattaya Business and Tourism Association President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn met with airport Deputy Director Capt. Manop Ketprajak May 28 to get an update on the project.

In addition to the terminal, Manop told Sinchai that the project also requires that emergency services would need to be implemented so that, if Bangkok’s airports should close again as they did in 2008, the new U-Tapao could take up the slack.

Communication facilities and military forces would need to be organized, as well as transportation services to bring stranded passengers to the Rayong terminal.

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