Bangkok's new airport to spur competition for regional hub status
"We have to think about expansion as well. We cannot be satisfied with 45 million passengers because others, mainly Singapore, will soon catch up with us," Choosak said.
Singapore's Changi Airport, which received a record 32.4 mln passengers last year, will finish building a new terminal by 2008 as part of efforts to defend its position as the region's leading aviation hub.
The new terminal will double Changi's annual passenger handling capacity to 64 mln, far outpacing Suvarnabhumi's initial scope.
"Since global demand for air travelling will remain robust for the next 20 years, everyone wants to increase their air traffic capacity to attract more passengers," Siriwan said.
"Everyone wants to become a key regional hub, so competition for Thailand is very tough," she said.
While Suvarnabhumi's initial capacity stands at 45 mln passengers per year, the airport can increase it to 100 mln once the new facility becomes fully operational.
"Thailand is well aware of the regional competition. Most of our neighbors' airports are pretty new, so they can easily upgrade facilities to attract more passengers," said Sukhbir Khanijoh, an economist at Kasikorn Securities.
The new airport will replace the overburdened Don Muang Airport, which handles about 37 mln passengers, two million more than designed.