BANGKOK (Tourism Authority of Thailand) - The final countdown for the opening of Bangkok’s second airport, Suvarnabhumi, began on 29 September 2005 when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and an entourage of VIP guests landed on the first technical test flight operated by Thai Airways International.
The Prime Minister said that the airport will now undergo its final tests as it heads for a full commercial opening in June 2006, fulfilling a promise that he made when elected for his first four-year term in 2000.
However, he did not rule out the possibility of a minor additional delay due to ‘factors beyond our control’ such as the licensing approvals needed from external parties like the International Civil Aviation Organization.
About 1,000 people, including ministers, officials, representatives of various public and private organizations, and journalists, were aboard the first two technical flights that landed on 29 September.
The first flight, TG 8960, carried the Prime Minister and his entourage on an Airbus 340-600 from the present Bangkok International Airport at Don Muang. The next flight, TG 8962, carried a group of 200 media people on a Boeing 747-400.
The airport boasts the world's longest runway, 75.3 metres by 4,000 metres long. The prime minister’s aircraft landed on this runway while the media aircraft landed on the western runway, which is 3.7 kilometres long.
When in full operation, the airport will help boost Thailand’s economic, social, communication, and tourism development, and advance the government policy of making Thailand an aviation hub in Southeast Asia.
It is located on an area of 20,000 rai, or 8,000 acres, on the 15th kilometre of Bang Na-Trat Road in Bang Phli District, Samut Prakan Province, just east of Bangkok, making it five times larger than the present airport, Don Muang. At 563,000 square metres, the passenger terminal will be the world’s largest single building structure.
A public transport centre now nearing completion will consist of a bus terminal, parking lots for buses, coaches, limousines, cars for rent, and taxis. The centre will include service areas for convenience stores and food shops.
Suvarnabhumi Airport will also be developed as “Aerotropolis” to attract various kinds of business under a special administrative zone.
Bangkok is by far the most important national gateway.
Of the 11.6 million arrivals to Thailand in 2004, a total of 8.2 million (or about 70.6% came through Bangkok. Many of them use the Thai capital as the gateway for taking onward flights to numerous other destinations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Although it has been years in the planning stages, Suvarnabhumi Airport has been pushed to completion under the administration of the present Prime Minister.
At the initial stage, Suvarnabhumi Airport will be able to handle up to 45 million passengers annually. After the final phase, this will rise to 100 million passengers a year.
The two parallel runways will have a total capacity of 76 flights per hour. Upon full completion of all the phases, the airport will have four runways.
Roughly 25 kms from downtown Bangkok, the expected travel time by road is around 40 minutes. A number of roads are being constructed all around the airport to boost accessibility from various sides and make travel to the new airport easier and quicker.
New routes will also link the airport to the popular tourist spots of Pattaya and Rayong. There is also a plan to connect the new airport with the existing airport at Don Muang which will continue to be used for charters, low-cost airlines as well as other forms of aviation.
The Thai cabinet has approved a 30 billion baht (US$ 750 million) budget for a 28-km overhead rail link between downtown Bangkok and the airport. Once finished, travelling time between the airport and the city centre will take only 15 minutes.
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