Thailand to delay $2.4b Bangkok airport expansion

Thailand to delay $2.4b Bangkok airport expansion

BANGKOK - Airports of Thailand Pcl, the country's largest airport operator, said on Thursday it has delayed a US$1.94 billion (S$2.4 billion) expansion plan at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport pending a review by the military government.

After seizing power in May, the country's military rulers have scrutinised state enterprises and large projects worth at least 1 billion baht (S$39 million) to ensure transparency and to take control of state companies.

"The second-phase expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport is among four additional projects to be examined by a committee in charge of overseeing fiscal budget for state enterprises," the company said in a statement.

The airport operator had planned to spend 62 billion baht over the next five years to expand capacity at Bangkok's overcrowded airport to 80 million a year by 2017.

The company has said the budget for the expansion could be reduced after the opening of Don Muang international airport, which should help serve passengers from Suvarnabhumi airport.

The US$4 billion Suvarnabhumi airport, which opened in September 2006 on what was once flooded marshland known as "cobra swamp", has the capacity to serve about 45 million passengers a year, but actual passengers were about 50 million last year.

The company will also discuss with the navy and the transport ministry about developing U-Tapao navy base to be a third commercial airport as requested by the military government, the statement said.

U-Tapao is a small airport already used for some short domestic and international charter flights and is 140 km (90 mile) southeast of Bangkok.

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