By The Nation
Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, a billionaire businessman and adviser to consortium member Bangkok Airways, told a press conference on Wednesday that U-Tapao International Aviation Co Ltd (BBS Joint Venture Group) is ready to construct the Rayong-based project as part of national infrastructure development in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
He said that Bangkok Airways joined the consortium due to the strategic importance of U-Tapao Airport and the aviation city as a hub for rail, road and air travel. Airlines in Bangkok Airways’ alliance would be invited to operate from the new airport development, he added. Bangkok Airways has over 100 airline partners worldwide.
Keeree Kanjanapas, chairman of fellow consortium member BTS Group Holdings, said the project will become Thailand’s third major international commercial airport, marking a significant step in the country’s economic development.
"Previously, we had never thought of joining an airport project, but we met with Bangkok Airways, who told us what was needed. So we decided to move forward and today we are 100-per-cent confident that we will continue to invest in the development of this ultra-modern airport system. " said Keeree.
BTS Group Holdings group has been tasked with constructing the project’s travel connection system to link with external transportation systems, including the APM (Automated People Mover) to link with the separate high-speed rail line which will connect U-Tapao with Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.
Keree revealed that both domestic and international partners were interested in investing in the aviation city, which should bring an influx of expertise to the project.
A study would likely be conducted before developing the duty-free shopping area, though no problems were predicted here since a budget of Bt30 billion had been earmarked, he said.
Anawat Leelawatwatana, Bangkok Airways senior vice-president, added its study had revealed three main factors, which lured the airline into bidding for the contract to build a third national airport:
The first was that Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports do not have enough capacity to support the 200 million annual arrivals expected by 2030.
The second was that travel in Asia-Pacific will account for an estimated 43 per cent of all global travel in 20 years’ time, up from 30 per cent now.
Thirdly, investments in the government's EEC project would boost employment and future investments, creating an opportunity to build a large city. Other capital cities, such as London with its four airports, were using airports in their development plans. Likewise, U-Tapao airport was expected to speed up development in the area and in Bangkok.
Anawat revealed Bangkok Airways’ Bt186-billion investment plan was split over four phases of development.
Phase 1 will use a budget of Bt31.290 million to construct 157,000 square metres of passenger terminals, a commercial activity area, parking building, ground transportation centre and 60 aircraft parking slots. Scheduled for completion in 2024, phase 1 is designed to accommodate up to 15.9 million passengers per year
Phase 2 will use Bt2.852 billion to develop a 107,000sqm passenger terminal with APM and automatic walkway systems, adding 16 aircraft slots. Scheduled for completion in 2030, it will accommodate up to 30 million passengers per year.
Phase 3 will use Bt31.377 billion to extend phase 2’s passenger terminal by more than 107,000 sqm, increasing the number of APM and adding 34 aircraft slots.
Scheduled for completion in 2042, it will accommodate up to 45 million passengers per year.
Phase 4 will use Bt38.198 million to build a second, 82,000sqm passenger terminal area in the aviation city, with automatic check-in system and 14 more aircraft slots. This should bring the airport’s capacity to 60 million passengers per year by 2055.
BTS Group Holdings has divided the development area into three parts:
The Commercial Gateway will stretch for 269 rai (430,000sqm) and encompass a lifestyle shopping area, hotel and luxury outlets.
The Airport City will cover 654 rai (1 million sqm) and feature an Innovation Park, exhibition area, medical hub, and office space.
The Cargo Zone and FTZ (Free Trade Zone) covering 262 rai (419,000sqm) will be a distribution centre to support product transportation.
The government is scheduled to deliver the project area to BBS at least 18 months before construction begins.
Pakpoom Srichamni, president and executive director at the third consortium partner, Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction, revealed that the government will issue a notice to proceed (NTP) within 180 days of the June 19 contract signing. He added that the government was preparing to open bidding to build the second runway at U-Tapao airport, with a budget of Bt13 billion-Bt14 billion. BBS Group will join the bidding he said, which is expected to open before the NTP for the Aviation City Project is issued.