Bid to develop U-tapao as commercial airport
Transport Minister Chadchart Sithipan has instructed the Civil Aviation Department to conduct a feasibility study on the construction of a second runway at U-tapao Airport as part of its plan to transform this airbase into a commercial airport alongside Don Mueang International Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport.
U-tapao Airport is spending Bt200 million to expand its capacity to serve 3 million passengers a year from the current 600,000 a year.
"The number of charter flights at U-tapao has risen and it will also be linked with the high-speed railway in the future, which will bring more passengers to the airport.
"Therefore, there is a need to develop it as a new commercial airport," Chadchart said.
The ministry will discuss the matter with Royal Thai Navy, which oversees U-tapao Airport, he added.
In addition to U-tapao, the ministry will talk to the Royal Thai Air Force on the possible further development of Khuan Khan Airport in Satun province, and with the Royal Thai Army on the possible further development of Surin Pakdi Airport in Surin province.
The Khuan Khan Airport runway is 1,100 metres in length and can serve a 15-seat plane, while the Surin airport has a 1,400-metre runway.
The Surin Chamber of Commerce has asked the government to upgrade its capacity. Chadchart said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra wanted to see this airport being upgraded as a transport link in Asean.