Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thai navy calls for upgrade of U-tapao airport

The navy has asked Pattaya City and the government to help upgrade U-tapao airport after it proved invaluable during the shutdowns of the two Bangkok airports last year.

Pattaya Mayor Itthipol Khunpluem and executives and councillors of Pattaya City this week met Rear Adm Sophon Boonchom, director of U-tapao airport, and other officials at the airport in Ban Chang district, Rayong, to discuss the refurbishing of the airport.

The meeting agreed that upgrading U-tapao was essential after it had to function as Bangkok's substitute airport when demonstrators from the People's Alliance for Democracy blockaded Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports late last year.

U-tapao's facilities were stretched to the limit by the large number of passengers and flights.

Naval authorities suggested five main areas of improvement, including landscaping of the airport and widening of the access road to four lanes from two.

Other points dealt with putting up billboards to raise income for airport operations, advertising on luggage trolleys and public relations campaigns to invite airlines and tourists to use the airport.

The navy asked Pattaya City to form a subsidiary to invest in and manage advertising at the airport.

Rear Adm Sophon said the airport would be renamed U-tapao-Pattaya and the Pattaya mayor and councillors would sit on the airport board.

The navy has sought a budget of 995 million baht from the government to build new aircraft parking facilities and a passenger terminal to double the airport's capacity, and acquire X-ray machines, fuel storage and fire engines, among other things.

The director expects the improvements to be completed in 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment