Phuket and Chiang Mai to get second airports

Airports of Thailand have announced plans to build new airports in Chiang Mai and Phuket in order to meet an increase in passenger growth in the coming years.

The catch is that rather than replace the existing creaking at the seams facilities the new airports are additional airports for overflow and growth – not replacements.

Which is a shame for Chiang Mai where the airport is simply too close to the city centre with significant noise pollution.

Sites have apparently already been selected for construction of both new airports, TNA reported. But neither location has been officially announced.

At an AOT board meeting held last week, it was agreed the two new airports would be built as part of a larger project to build 6 new airports in Thailand.

AOT said that by 2038, 137,790 flights will be arriving at Chiang Mai airport, bring some 23.33 million passengers. However, the current planned expansion of the city’s airport which is due for completion by 2025 would only accommodate 20 million passengers.

It’s a similar story in Phuket, where despite a recent upgrade the airport simply isn’t large enough to cope with the anticipated passenger growth.

AOT predicts Phuket will receive 42.2 million passengers from 211,150 flights by 2038. However, the current airport facilities will only be able to handle 18 million passengers by 2022.

In Chiang Mai the new airport will be located between San Kamphaeng district and Ban Thi district in Lamphun.

Meanwhile, a site in Khok Kloi, Phang Nga, which is located north of Phuket island, has been earmarked for the new airport.

The construction of the airports will cost 126 billion baht.

Officials said construction of the new airports will begin next year and will be completed by 2025.

Of course what Chiang Mai really needs is a single first class airport for up to 30m passengers a year – with two runways and catering for both domestic and international passengers. It should be connected by fast rail links to the city centre. The old airport should be closed and the land redeveloped.

None of this will happen – the AirForce owns the existing Chiang Mai airport and are not about to forgo the revenue that brings in. While the AoT would own the new airport. A carve-up. Just like Bangkok where Don Mueang was supposed to close in 2008 and now handles over 30 million passengers a year.

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