3-billion-baht price tag on RTAF golf course too high, says AOT

TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2024

AOT director reckons rate of 5 million baht for 30 years far more reasonable

The 3 billion baht demanded by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) for its golf course to be used to expand Don Mueang International Airport is too high, the Airports of Thailand (AOT) said.

AOT director Kirati Kijmanawat said on Tuesday that negotiations to set an “appropriate sum” for RTAF’s Kantarat Golf Course would be required. He also pointed out that such a huge amount would badly affect AOT’s finances.

Last year, the RTAF announced it was willing to hand over its 355-rai golf course to AOT for Don Mueang Airport’s expansion, provided both sides agreed upon a compensation amount.

The RTAF estimates that it and its golf course staff will lose some 3 billion baht in revenue over 30 years and AOT should cover this loss.

However, Kirati said 3 billion baht was definitely not the right amount, adding that AOT could cover the so-called loss in revenue at the rate of 5 million baht per year for 30 years.

Also, he said, other sums like compensation for laying off caddies were far too high. “Caddies should get paid six months salary in compensation, not 30 years,” Kirati said.

He added that if RTAF reaches an agreement with the AOT on the compensation amount, then it would build a new taxiway on the golf course and the airport would have more space for aeroplanes to taxi down before taking off.

“This will boost the capacity of runways 1 and 2 by 5% and the airport will be able to handle 65 flights per hour instead of 55 flights now,” Kirati said.

He added that Don Mueang Airport will also become safer once the golf course ceases operating. Kirati said that though the airport’s safety standards have been certified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, there have been several safety issues regarding the operation of the golf course.

For instance, he said, the golf course is far too close to the runway and some golf carts and players ignored the safety signs. Also, he said, trees in the golf course obstruct a clear view of the runway from the control tower.

Apart from acquiring the golf course for expansion, AOT will also next year launch a round of bidding for the 36.83 billion baht third-phase expansion of the airport, Kirati said.

This expansion will allow the airport to accommodate 50 million passengers per year, compared to 30 million now.

The expanded facilities will gradually open for service from 2029. The expansion will include the construction of a third passenger building, though the current domestic passenger building will have to be demolished first. The new building will cover 155,000 square metres and will serve as a new international passenger terminal.

Once the new building is turned into an international passenger terminal, the current passenger terminal will be closed for maintenance.

As part of the maintenance, the first building which currently serves international passengers will be connected to the second building. Eventually, both these buildings will serve as domestic passenger terminals.