Airports of Thailand reports August traffic increase – Suvarnabhumi expansion a priority


Airports of Thailand (AoT) reported a 3.1% increase in passenger traffic to 4.8 million in Aug-2010, including a 9.6% surge in international numbers to 3.0 million. Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport reported a 0.4% fall in passenger traffic in Aug-2010 to 3.5 million. But so far in 2010 (eight months to Aug-2010), Suvarnabhumi has handled 27.8 million passengers, a 7.6% year-on-year increase. International traffic has surged 9.8% (off last year's weak base) to 21.3 million passengers.

Amid resurgent demand, AoT last month gained approval to proceed with plans to raise funding to expand Bangkok Suvarnabhumi with a new satellite terminal.

The second phase expansion of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi has been mooted for some time. In early 2008, officials were discussing the expansion project to increase capacity to 60 million passengers would occur by 2013. It appears that timetable has now slipped three years to around 2016 at the earliest.

The airport handled around 40.5 million passengers last year, and is nearing its design capacity of around 45 million passengers per annum. AoT is anxious to commence construction soon, to avoid the problems associated with congestion and overcrowding. AoT hopes to commence construction within 18 months.

The new terminal will be located approximately 800 m south of the existing facility and will cost around USD2 billion. It will handle up to 30 aircraft, including A380 equipment, on a new concourse.

Bangkok’s expansion is crucial in light of competitive issues in the region and beyond. Kuala Lumpur is progressing with the development of a massive new LCC terminal which will come online some three years before Bangkok’s new terminal, while Singapore Changi has always excelled at adding capacity ahead of demand.

To the west, the major Indian hubs are reinventing themselves and becoming much more competitive, while the Middle East hubs of Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi are investing billions in their airport infrastructure and are gaining traffic as the likes of Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad continue to expand aggressively. China is doing likewise.

For Thailand, it is crucial to invest now, or risk falling behind.

AoT shares were flat yesterday.

Selected airports daily share price movements (% change): 14-Sep-2010

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