[ Thailand ] New Don Mueang crowd plan

06 December 2017

Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) is adopting a new approach for the delayed upgrade of Don Mueang airport to address the worsening overcrowding problem.

The new approach entails a rejig of the master plan, which may take another seven years to be completed.

AoT is working on two major undertakings: renovation of the existing Terminal 1 (T1), which accommodates international passengers; and the renewal of the old domestic terminal, which has been decommissioned for over a decade.

The two projects should render a combined incremental passenger handling capacity of 13 million a year as early as 2020, Don Mueang general manager Suthirawat Suwannawat told the Bangkok Post.

Restoration of the old domestic terminal in the southern corridor, at an estimated cost of 2.5 billion baht, should add capacity of 10 million passengers a year.

Physical renovation work is expected to commence next year, he said.

The renovation of T1, which has been in use for over four decades, will add capacity of 3 million passengers a year, rising to 15 million, once work is completed over the next three years.

The work on T1 is geared toward removing bottlenecks at several stages, including immigration and check-in counters.

Renovation of T1 will not result in a complete shutdown as the facility will be closed in sections, so passenger handling capacity will not take a big hit, adding to Don Mueang's overcrowding woes.

That means the existing Terminal 2 (T2), which is accommodating domestic passengers, will be split to serve both international and domestic passengers while T1's renovation is in progress, said Mr Suthirawat.

All in all, by 2020 the airport will serve as many as 53 million passengers a year, up from 30 million at present.

"It is imperative that we move faster with our upgrade to handle the fast-growing air traffic through the airport,'' he said.

The airport's passenger traffic has surged over the years, spurred by the proliferation of low-cost carriers (LCCs) and the influx of Chinese tourists to Thailand.

Don Mueang has mostly served LCCs, with a substantial number of Chinese tourists using it as their gateway to Thailand.

For the fiscal year ending Sept 30, the airport handled 37.2 million passengers, up 7.2% from the previous year.

Aircraft movements through the airport in the period also rose by 5.4% to 253,536.
Projected passenger traffic through Don Mueang for the year to Sept 30, 2018 is 40-41 million passengers, he said.

AoT has pushed up the renovation of its old domestic terminal and T1 upfront because they are not subject to environmental impact assessments (EIAs).

That is not applicable to the host of work related to the phase-three upgrade, as the facilities are being built from scratch, said Mr Suthirawat.

Such is the case behind the revamp of the master plan which, on paper, will have "official" handling capacity of 40 million passengers a year in order to be consistent with the EIA application.

There are five groups of work related to the third-phase upgrade, which is estimated to cost 32 billion baht and is targeted to go operational by 2024.

That work includes the construction of the so-called "junction building" next to T2 that would be connected with the Red Line mass transit system, with 200,000 square metres in floor space dedicated to retail outlets and a hotel.

The plan also calls for the installation of 4.5km of Automated People Mover systems laid from north and south corridors of the airport.

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Credit: Bangkok Post
Credit link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/transport/1371867/new-don-mueang-crowd-plan

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