According to the Bangkok Post, Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) is facing a good problem of managing Phuket airport’s ever increasing demand. Demand is expected to continue even after the current airport expansion.
Options for the airport authorities include:
- Adding further capacity at the airport’s current site
- Building a greenfield airport in Koh Phra Thong, Phangnga province 100km to the north (see island blue rectangle in location map below)
- Using Krabi’s airport which is 180 kilometers from Phuket (see Krabi airport location below)
Options that can be ruled out include:
- Further expansion of Phuket airport by means of adjacent land acquisition is not a viable option due to exorbitant land prices
- Land reclamation (from the sea). But this could encounter environmental issues and impede progress making capital outlays prohibitive
The need for AoT to determine the future of Phuket airport is becoming ever more critical against the backdrop of surging passenger traffic to the southern resort island, whose popularity as a global destination keeps increasing.
The volume projection for 2015 would take up almost all the increased capacity resulting from the present airport expansion, which will boost annual passenger handling capacity to 12.5 million, almost double from 6.5 million at present.
The scenario for post-2015 is Phuket airport returning to square one, meaning it would once again become as heavily overcrowded as it is now.
The airport is now forced to turn away many commercial flight requests.
Phuket airport will definitely need a second runway in another 10-15 years as well as capacity to handle an additional 10 million passengers a year.