The gathering at the Kata Beach Resort marked the release of the new construction timetable. It was also the first time the Phuket ''wave'' design of the new airport had been on show in public.
Designer Flying Officer Chaturongkapon Sodmanee said that he believed the wave was Phuket's symbol and so had incorporated it into the look of the four-storey international terminal.
The old airport is now in a state of overload with 8.4 million passengers coming and going in 2011 through a facility built to handle a maximum of 6.5 million.
Estimates of the date of completion have slipped back from 2014 to mid-2015. To have the new Phuket International Airport actually open as planned would be a major achievement.
On the present timetable, a construction firm for the project will be chosen before June, when demolition work is scheduled to begin on the car park, the existing cargo building and the present airport admin office block.
That work continues through to February 2013, when foundations will be laid for the new four-storey Phuket international terminal.
The ground floor will provide bus access, the second floor will be for arrivals, the third floor for departures and the fourth for relaxation and an observation viewpoint, looking out from the ''wave'' to the genuine thing in the Andaman Sea.
The airport will be able to handle 720 flights a day with jets as large as a Boeing 787* able to come and go on the lengthened single runway. Connecting bays for 25 large aircraft and five smaller aircraft will be available.
There will be 32 Immigration counters for Arrivals and 33 for Departures. A five-storey car park will replace the current ground space.
Among the interested parties and media at last night's briefing, former Mai Khao mayor Manoch Phanchalard made a plea for more sensible pricing at the new airport, suggesting that even food and drink were now too expensive.
''Airports of Thailand should be able to offer prices comparable to the average corner convenience store,'' Khun Manoch said.
Taking his cue, Anurak Tansiriroj, Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic, said that sensible taxi fares should also be introduced. He also called for clear directional signage within the new airport buildings.
Hard-working airport staff and passengers arriving and departing Phuket can continue to face inconvenience and delays for some time to come.
The new facility makes full use of all the space available, although there was talk some time back that the airport's capacity could be grown to 15 million by demolishing existing staff accommodation buildings.
Phuket airport passenger traffic rose 20.22 percent in 2011 following a rise of 21.87 percent in 2010. If that trend continues, a consistent 20 percent rise would give Phuket 10 million passengers in 2012, 12 million in 2013, 14.4 million in 2014, and 17.2 million in 2015.
AoT has yet to reveal its mid-term and long-term strategy for future air travel to Phuket beyond June, 2015.
*We had this erroneously as 747 in earlier reports.