Airport City envisioned for Phuket
Published: 9 May 2014 at 00.28
Newspaper section: Business, Bangkok Post
Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) is soliciting interest from the private sector to take part in developing what it calls Phuket International Airport City on over 24,000 square metres now in use as an outdoor car park.
The multi-billion-baht scheme is part of AoT’s unprecedented push to transform areas within six airports under its purview into commercial zones to create extra revenue and lessen dependence on earnings from aeronautical operations.
Phuket airport was chosen as one of the three initial sites, in addition to Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan and Don Mueang in Bangkok, because of its heavy passenger traffic.
Phuket is the country’s third-busiest airport, with nearly 12 million passengers expected to pass through this year.
Capital expense for the three priority locations is estimated at over 30 billion baht.
Phuket’s proposed Airport City will be up to 23 metres tall, the maximum height permissible by law for buildings located 500 metres from the seashore, according to AoT’s conceptual plan.
That means the building will have five or six storeys from the ground level, with levels in the basement dedicated for the parking of up to 1,200 cars.
The proposed Phuket scheme would create a sizeable new retail zone for a five-kilometre radius that lacks any well-established shopping centre or airport hotel, said AoT executives. The aim is to attract people living in the neighbourhood and general visitors, not just passengers travelling through the airport.
But tourists remain a good part of the expected clientele, with Russians, Scandinavians and Chinese high on Phuket’s arrival list.
AoT executives do not envisage passenger traffic volume becoming an issue in creating a business base for Airport City.
The airport is heavily congested with an existing capacity of 6.5 million passengers a year. Several airlines are awaiting flight time slots as more tourists want to visit the southern resort island, said AoT.
It is widely understood by the private sector that AoT will be responsible for investment in the building and the companies renting the space.
The 5.7-billion-baht expansion of Phuket airport is underway and scheduled for completion next year, increasing its annual passenger capacity to 12.5 million.
AoT put the project on the fast track, aiming to see it up and running by next year.
It is situated on airport land belonging to the Treasury Department, with 18 years remaining on the lease. AoT executives say they foresee no problems in extending the lease with the department.