New Phuket terminal doubles airport capacity

Phuket’s airport has opened a brand new international terminal that doubles its passenger capacity.

The new terminal was opened by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha at the end of last week. Part of a 5.14-billion-baht plan to expand the airport, the four-storey development will double the airport’s passenger capacity from 6.5 million passengers per year to 12.5 million.

Spanning 73,104 square metres, the terminal will be dedicated to international travellers, accommodating 15 immigration points, eight customs counters and five baggage reclaim carousels.

The upgrade marks a significant boost for the area’s tourist industry, as well as its property market. Indeed, the airport now serves 46 airlines, connecting the Thailand hotspots with more than 37 destinations.

Even with the air-conditioned arrivals hall that covers almost 6,000 square metres, though, there are concerns that the airport is already operating at capacity. Indeed, two years ago, Mekin Petplai, the then-President of Airports of Thailand, which operates six major airports in Thailand, including in Phuket, suggested that Phuket could exceed its new airport’s capacity due to its rapidly rising popularity.

According to AoT, Phuket Airport served 12.525 million travellers in 2015, including 6.95 million international visitors. In the year to August 2016, the airport accommodated 13.66 million passengers, up 17.01 per cent from the same period last year. Between January and July, meanwhile, the airport served 8.943 million people, up 19.7 per cent year-on-year.