The Nation Published on August 24, 2010
Airports of Thailand is optimistic that the Cabinet will today approve the company's Bt62 billion expansion plan for the Suvarnabhumi Airport, as the planned third runway is taken out of the plan pending for the environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Somchai Sawasdeepon, senior executive vice president of AOT, said in an interview yesterday that much of the investment is for greater convenience of passengers as it encompasses the second terminal, an office building and more parking areas.
"If the Cabinet approves the plan tomorrow, this will take 72 months for all to be completed on the assumption that in 2016 Suvarnabhumi will accommodate 64 million passengers. Without the approval, the existing facilities can handle more passengers, but they may have to wait in a longer line," he said.
At present, the airport is designed to accommodate upto 45 million passengers per annum.
A source said recently that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would axe the investment, on grounds that no EIA was attached. AOT was ordered to pay Bt11 billion in damage to residents near Suvarnabhumi for noise pollution caused by the two runways. To date, it has paid out only about Bt1 billion.
Somchai explained that as the plan did not include the third runway, there is no need for the EIA. AOT is now carrying out the EIA for the third runway, which would compliment the existing two in case of emergency. With two runways, the airport is capable of handling 76 flights per hour, but now at peaks, there are only 52 flights per hour.
According to Somchai, once the Cabinet approves the investment plan, AOT would need to outline the details for the National Economic and Social Development Board's screening. A project consultant would be then hired for the design. Then, a bidding will be called. He expected the process on the terminal would be the most lengthy.