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Suvarnabhumi overcapacity worsens

Latest figures confirmed traffic through Suvarnabhumi Airport has well surpassed its design capacity and congestion will only get worse in the coming years.

Passenger traffic for the fiscal year, which ended last month, exceeded 47 million. The airport was designed to handle 45 million a year, said Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), the majority state-owned airport operator.

Traffic is expected to steadily increase over time, yet there have been delays in airport expansion that should have been carried out right after Suvarnabhumi became operational five years ago.

AoT projections are for passenger traffic through one of Southeast Asia’s busiest airports to rise to 49.4 million for 2012, 52.1 million in 2013, 54.9 million in 2013, 57.8 million in 2014, 60.7 million in 2015 and 68 million in 2016.

Traffic jumped from 37.05 million in fiscal year 2009 to 42.49 million in 2010.

AoT acting president Somchai Sawasdeepon acknowledged it has been struggling to deal with the congestion but has tried to remove bottlenecks to streamline traffic. A meaningful resolution will only come when the multi-billion-baht expansion is complete years from now.

“Expansion of the airport should have been carried out years ago,” he noted.

AoT is pushing to expedite the construction of a new domestic terminal at the site with the capacity to handle 20 million passengers a year for an estimated 9.2 billion baht. It hopes to kick off the project next year with construction to be completed in five years. The larger phase-two master plan, estimated at 62 billion baht, which would raise the airport’s capacity to 65 million passengers a year, is still subject to review.

The airport’s cargo capacity faces no such worries. For the year ending last month, Suvarnabhumi handled 1.24 million tonnes of cargo, up from 980,000 tonnes last year.

The cargo terminal can handle 3 million tonnes a year.

Source: Bangkok Post

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