New Bangkok International Airport: September 29 2005 Deadline Unlikey
While Thai Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit recently reaffirmed the Thai governmentís intention to stick by a Sept 29, 2005 deadline for the opening of the New Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport), sources close to the project suggest a number of setbacks could mean its opening is delayed until well into 2006. Although Srisook Chandrangsu, chairman of the Airports Authority of Thailand, suggested the airport might not be completed until March next year, with 3 months of construction yet to be completed and a further 6 months required for post-completion testing, some more pessimistic predictions put an end date for the project as far back as September 2006. Rises in costs of construction materials spurred by a rapid increase in fuel prices have helped slow the project down, while problems with the airport runway and difficulties related to the installation of bomb scanners are still key concerns as the completion date approaches.
With air traffic in Asia growing at around 6 to 9 percent a year and the capitalís Don Muang Airport officially second only to Tokyo's Narita Airport in terms of traffic, the new airport is urgently required and expected to cater for some 45 million passengers annually with a planned transition to 100 million passengers a year over the next 10 years. This will make the new airport the largest in the world.
A key aspect to the Thai government's economic strategy to make Bangkok a commercial hub within the Southeast Asian region, delays could have serious consequences for Thai industry and commerce and stifle growth in inbound tourism.