Air Cargo Quarterly - Thailand New Airport

By: | at 07:00 PM | Channel(s): Air Cargo News  

Thailand hopes new airport will make it Southeast Asia’s aviation hub
Thailand’s King Rama IX, the country’s constitutional monarch, had a vision: he wanted to transform Thailand into an aviation hub that would not only eclipse Southeast Asia’s other airports, including Singapore’s Changhi Airport and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in terms of a state-of-art aviation infrastructure. He also hopes it becomes a key point for cargo traffic.
The King’s ambitious plan is manifested in the country’s new Suvarnabhumi Airport being constructed in the Samut Prakarn province, some 25 kms east of Bangkok city. Suvarnabhumi – literally translated as the “Golden Land” – will, eventually, replace the current Don Muang Bangkok International Airport, which is bursting at the seams. The new airport will stretch to some eight kms in length and four kms in width.
However, the new airport, a subject of protracted debate, did not seem to make a headway for quite some time, and critics often scoffed at it as just “another big idea” which would get bogged in down in fruitless talk. The airport project has finally taken off, and government officials say that it should be ready for inauguration by October 2005. However, some Thai aviation experts doubt if the October 2005 deadline is a realistic proposition. “Although the basic construction work has begun in full earnestness, there are huge subcontracting projects involved and these are going to take a long time,” says an insider who prefers to remain anonymous.
The airport construction, entrusted to the New Bangkok International Airport Co. Ltd. (NBIA), the nodal agency created for implementing the project, will entail a huge investment, expected by conservative estimates to touch a whopping 155 billion baht (US$ 3.98 billion), of which 125 billion bhat (US$ 3.20 billion) will be pooled in by the NBIA and the remainder 30 billion bhat (US$ 0.78 billion) is be provided by other state and private agencies. The major shareholder in the NBIA, which was established in 1996, is the Airport Authority of Thailand (AAT).
Bangkok’s present airport is among the world’s top 20 cargo airports. According to the Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI), Bangkok handled a volume of 980,916 metric tons of cargo in the period June 2003-May 2004.
“Onslaught of increasing cargo traffic”
At the new airport, the Thai Government will build up a huge infrastructure to accommodate what Thai officials describe as the “onslaught of increasing cargo traffic” expected in the future. According to the AAT, the new airport will be able to handle a volume of some three million tons per year in the “initial phase,” increasing progressively to a volume of 6.4 million tons in its “fully developed phase.”
Representatives of Thai Cargo are also upbeat about the opportunities for its cargo operations offered by the new airport. “The new Suvarnabhumi Airport will definitely allow us more room and its state-of-the-art facilities will obviate delays and other irritations which can occur from time to time at a congested airport,” says Suvimol.
The cargo and mail commercial wing of the airport will house a customs free zone management system; there will also be a warehouse with an area of 90,000 square meters to accommodate more than 1.2 million tons of goods each year.
The planners say that the new airport’s cargo facility will be connected by a labyrinth of highways to make cargo operations viable not only for the operators but also ensure a spillover effect on the local economy, including small businesses which will be set up in and around the airport. The cargo facility will be served from Romkaow junction, which is linked with the highway and further connects with the Gulf of Thailand. The idea is to facilitate shipments by road to and from the Gulf of Thailand. A container yard located North of the terminal and operated by the state railway company, will be linked by road and rail to the eastern seaport in Leam Cha Bung.

American Journal of Transportation