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A new X terminal expands capacity at Phuket International Airport

Phuket Airport Capacity Jumps to 20 Million When Two New Terminals Open

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
PHUKET: The capacity of Phuket International Airport will rise to 20 million passengers in 2016-17, a senior manager with Airports of Thailand revealed yesterday.

Deputy CEO Pongsakti Semsan said the construction of a new 155 million baht terminal for group and charter passengers as well as the new international terminal would allow the growth.

He also said that AoT expected to make two billion baht profit on revenue of four billion baht in the full calendar year 2013.

A large group of senior executives came from Bangkok yesterday to lay the foundation stone for Terminal X, which will mostly handle charters and groups.

It's expected to open around the same time or a little before the new international terminal in May, 2015.

Projecting the figure of 20 million, up from the previous 12.5 million, explains where AoT will find the capacity to handle Phuket's extraordinary growth in tourist numbers.

In line with Phuketwan's estimates, the AoT believes arrivals and departures through the Phuket facility could reach 11 million this year.

''Flights are coming at the rate of 200 a day and 30,000 passengers are passing through the airport,'' Khun Pongsakti said.

''From the end of October we expect that figure will rise to 215-220 flights a day for the high season. The number of passengers continues to grow day by day.''

Larger aircraft will be required to boost the passenger numbers to 20 million because Phuket still has only one runway.

A strategy for the improved infrastructure necessary to handle 10 million arriving passengers once they leave the airport has yet to be spelled out by Phuket authorities.

The island is already struggling to retain its natural appeal - the west coast's beaches and coral reefs - with a figure of half what AoT is now saying could be achieved in 2016-17.

The word ''sustainability'' was not heard at Phuket International Airport yesterday. Figures for passengers and profit took precedence.

The airport remains Phuket's most important piece of infrastructure, and that applies to the neighboring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi as well.

While Phuket's authorities have been talking up plans to reform the chaotic taxi and tuk-tuk system and save Phuket's beaches from exploitation, little has actually been achieved so far.

With the private AoT creaming two billion baht in profit and charging taxi groups high rents that boost taxi fares to extortionate levels, the pockets of Phuket tourists and travellers appeared to be viewed as extremely deep, perhaps even bottomless.

The number of passengers rose year on year in the financial year to October 1 by an amazing 33.7 percent. Flights tallied 71,198, up 27.38 percent.

In September alone, 833,001 passengers arrived and departed from Phuket airport, up 31.41 percent on September 2012.

International travellers rose 38.61 percent while domestics numbers were up by 23.86 percent.

The January-September total reached 8.4 million, with October November and December to come.

If the Chinese market falls away slightly as predicted because of new laws governing travel from China from October 1, the likelihood is that Phuket airport could fall a fraction short of the 11 million total for 2013.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Two billion profit on four billion revenue! My goodness, that's a good business to be in. Wish my business gave such good returns.... in fact I bet any business anywhere in the world would love such returns! Did I hear anyone mention the words "rip off" or "monopoly"? :-)

Posted by Blimey on October 9, 2013 11:28


There's a lot more to being able to handle 20 million passengers than just terminal capacity.

If we assume that the average plane carries 150 passengers, that would make for 365 aircraft movements every day, 24/7/365.

The current runway and tarmac layout, with no high speed exits and lack of gates is nowhere near able to handle that much traffic.

Whoever is coming up with these fantasy figures has little or no understanding of how an airport operates.

That's scary.

Posted by ThaiMike on October 9, 2013 11:50

Editor Comment:

It's often the case that deputies are delegated to make these kinds of forecasts in businesses everywhere. One minute, the capacity is 12.5 million, the next - with the addition of a ''temporary'' terminal now made permanent - it's 20 million. Something has to give. We'd appreciate a more detailed and rational account.


"He also said that AoT expected to make two billion baht profit on revenue of four billion baht in the full calendar year 2013".

Something not quite right there. Too much profit for an airport operator. Perhaps some hidden extras are included.

Posted by Pete on October 9, 2013 11:54


Going to need some more Limmos to service those 20m!

Posted by Duncan on October 9, 2013 12:34


So they're bragging about 20 million in a few yrs time... Ok so the two new terminals can handle the influx, but what about infrastructure on Phuket in general? Likes the roads esp Patong!?!? It's takes em so long to build a road and not built properly at that!!! Bad enough now, it's going to be a joke when the new terminals open!! Yep typical!! Better places to go in Thailand and SE Asia than here!! Lost me as a tourist!!

Posted by Anonymous on October 9, 2013 14:25


Its often the case deputies make these forecasts in Thai operated businesses. Therefore the blame can be squarely laid elsewhere, I would not allow one of my staff send out such spurious figures withouth checking. 12.5m to 20m is one hell of a jump!

Posted by paul on October 9, 2013 15:01


" I would not allow one of my staff send out such spurious figures withouth checking." - it's called deniability aka saving face by letting the deputy take the blame when the truth comes out. The figures are just sound bites produced to jutify a decision that has already been made irrespective of being based on factual information, a concept that seems sadly lacking in important decisions being taken about the future of Puket. As usual it takes the media, in this case this arm of the media, to debunk the spurious figures of passenger nmbers previously quoted.

Posted by Alan on October 9, 2013 15:23

Editor Comment:

Without details of how that figure was reached it's difficult to be certain one way or the other but 20 million is a long way north of 12.5 million, and all with just the addition of a terminal that was originally ''temporary.''

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