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Airports of Thailand plans $4.3-B expansion as arrivals rise

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BANGKOK (Reuters) – Airports of Thailand Pcl (AOT) plans to invest 140 billion baht ($4.26 billion) to expand the country’s main airport as it expects an increase in passenger arrivals, a senior executive said on Monday.

Suvarnabhumi airport will add a second satellite terminal, a third terminal and a fourth runway to bring capacity to 150 million passengers per year in its fourth and fifth expansion phases from 2021 to 2030, Senior Executive Vice President Anake Teeraviwatchai told reporters.

AOT, a prime beneficiary of Thailand’s tourism boom, has seen profits jump with arrival numbers, but has been unable to cope with overstretched capacity.

Passenger arrivals are expected to touch 100 million per year over the next 10 years, Anek said adding that a train service would also link terminals.

Suvarnabhumi airport currently has a capacity of 45 million passengers, but handles 60 million. Overcapacity has led to poorer service quality, complaints about long immigration lines and deteriorating infrastructure.

Thailand expects tourist arrivals to reach 37.5 million this year, up 6 percent from 2017
The airport is in the second phase of expansion, which will be completed in 2020 and bring capacity to 60 million passengers per year. Another 63 billion baht has been allotted for the third phase of expansion to bring capacity to 90 million passengers.

Being a state enterprise, political changes and limitations to efficiency have delayed much-needed expansion of the airport, analysts say.

Thailand is governed by a military junta, which came into power in a coup in 2014. The country expects to hold elections next year.

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