The first phase of the U-Tapao airport expansion plan is expected to start later this year, as some criteria to deliver the area for construction have not been approved by authorities.
According to Anawat Leelawatwatana, senior vice president for finance and accounting at Bangkok Airways and a representative for U-Tapao International Aviation Company (UTA), three criteria required for the issuance of the area delivery of construction permit for the airport expansion are still being reviewed by the government. The criteria include an auction for a second runway, an environmental health impact assessment that must be approved by the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) committee, and the operational timeline for the airport’s high-speed railway.
According to Anawat, the UTA has agreed to conditions for sharing the first runway with the Royal Thai Navy as well as the railway location at the airport. The UTA also intends to propose an 8 million passenger capacity option, which would reduce terminal space by 30-50% and make investment more feasible. However, this would also require approval from the EEC committee.
The Bangkok Airways senior vice president said he expected the project to accelerate with the appointment of a new EEC secretary, although construction would most likely begin in the middle of this year. (NNT)