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Thailand Needs Improved Aviation Infrastructure: IATA

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

29 February 2016

Thailand needs to invest to make its busiest airport safer and able to meet growing demand, according to a new report from the International Air Transport Association.

Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO, said: "Aviation is critical to Thailand's economic success. It is the backbone of the tourism industry and provides critical global business links. We estimate that today aviation and related activities account for some two million Thai jobs and generate USD29bn in GDP. And by 2035 we could see that grow to 3.8 million jobs and USD53bn in GDP. If realized, that potential 83 percent growth would have a broad and positive impact across the Thai economy. It is in jeopardy, however, unless key issues of safety, capacity, and costs are addressed urgently."

IATA said Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport ranks amongst the top air hubs in the world, with over 50 million annual passengers. However, it faces several issues which must be resolved, IATA said.

It said safety concerns about "soft spots" on the tarmac, taxiways, and apron area must be permanently resolved. Aircraft frequently get "stuck" in the soft surfaces that are the result of sub-standard materials. It highlighted that the extra power and towing needed to maneuver through these surfaces is a safety risk to ground personnel, ground vehicles, and aircraft. On top of that, frequent surface repairs create congestion. "The constant resurfacing of the tarmac, taxiways, and apron area with asphalt is an unacceptable patchwork solution. We literally need a 'concrete" solution,'" said Tyler.

The airport also faces a capacity crunch, IATA said, noting that Suvarnabhumi is handling over 52 million passengers. This already exceeds the terminal design capacity of 45 million, while demand is growing by 10 percent annually. IATA recommended that fast tracking the Phase Two terminal expansion would provide much needed terminal capacity, adding that the Thai Government should push forward third runway plans at Subarnabhumi.

"A permanent fix for the frequent tarmac, taxiway, and apron closures for resurfacing will address near-term runway capacity concerns. But a runway takes a long-time to build, so it is important that that plans for the third runway continue to move forward," said Tyler.

TAGS: aviation

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