Thailand Earmarks $9B For U-Tapao Airport Modernization

Concept of U-Tapao international airport
Concept of U-Tapao international airport.
Credit: One Works

SINGAPORE—Bangkok has announced that it will invest THB290 billion ($8.82 billion) to modernize U-Tapao airport (UTP) under the Eastern Airport City masterplan. 

Work is expected to commence in 2023. The key stakeholders are India infrastructure company GMR Group and LCC Thai AirAsia, which have appointed architectural firm One Works to devise the airport development masterplan. The goal is to enable U-Tapao to handle 60-75 million passengers annually over a three-phased project. 

The public-private project covers 1,040 hectares (4 mi.²) and will see the construction of a logistics and cargo complex, a cargo village under a free trade zone, and a ground transportation center that will link U-Tapao to Bangkok’s Don Mueang (DMK) and Suvarnabhumi (BKK) airports. The Thai government estimated the project will inject 15,000 jobs over the next five years. 

Currently, the airport is co-used by the Royal Thai Navy (RTN). 

CAPA data shows there are six airlines serving U-Tapao: Azur Air, Bangkok Airways, flydubai, Red Wings, Thai Lion Air and Thai Summer Airways. Currently, 52% of all flights are chartered flights, primarily from Russia. 

Eastern Airport City is part of Thailand’s greater Eastern Economic Corridor, a plan initiated by the Thai government in 2017 to develop eastern Thailand for tourism and economy activities. Located 140 km (87 mi.) south of Bangkok and next to the Gulf of Thailand, U-Tapao markets itself as the gateway to the popular Pattaya Beach tourist area.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.