Initial upgrade plans specified 12.5 million passengers. Now upped to 20 million.
The capacity of Phuket International Airport has been lifted to a theoretical 20 million passengers by adaptation and improved efficiency.
Airport general manager Prathuang Somkhom is probably the man who can take credit – or blame – for following the mantra ”more tourists, more income” for Phuket.
His aim is to boost the island’s economy by turning a facility that just a few weeks ago had a maximum capacity of 12.5 million into something capable of delivering an extra 7.5 million.
Phuket remains a popular spot, with a survey of Chinese recently placing it only behind Hong Kong as a favored destination.
”Even if changes to China’s laws to protect tourists slows the rise in traffic, the airlines are desperate to protect their slots,” Khun Prathuang said today.
”They do not want to lose the access they have to Phuket. Airlines have told me they are prepared to fly half-full to Phuket.
”Everyone expects the boom to resume.”
”A lot of Phuket’s potential to grow hinges around the parking bays,” he said. ”If a flight can land and turn around in just 20 minutes, we have done a good job.”
So a great deal of attention has turned towards lifting the number arrivals and departures to a heightened pitch.
Meanwhile, back at the airport, he’s banking on upping the number of flights that arrive each day from 115-120 to about 200.
”I should also make the point that airlines need to understand that Krabi is not far from Phuket and that it’s actually closer for passengers who want to enjoy Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay,” Khun Prathuang said.
While Phuket airport is overcrowded, Krabi’s perfect airport caters to just a fraction of its capacity.
Now the rush of tourists is causing questions to be asked about the sustainability of Phuket with development racing ahead and the beaches and reefs under intensifying pressure.