Thailand seeks private sector help to refurbish every airport in the country

The government of Thailand has called for the private sector to invest in the expansion of 28 of the country’s regional airports, and the development of one greenfield site. The aim is to help Thailand compete with Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam in becoming the principal aviation hub for Southeast Asia.

The call was made by Darun Saengchai, the director-general of the Department of Airports (DoA). He was speaking at a meeting of interested parties called to survey opinions on the proposed programme of works.

"A similar survey forum will be held in the provinces to gain local feedback on the projects. They will be attended by private firms which express an interest in airport investment," the director-general said, reports The Bangkok Post.

After the surveys the department will work on business plans for each of the projects, which will be published in the next two months.

Mr Darun added that the DoA was keeping an open mind on whether the airports would be privately operated or developed under a build, operate, transfer model. According to the director-general, most of Thailand’s airports are making a profit, which could be increased by expansions.

Each airport covers around 800ha. Areas that remain vacant will be available for commercial development.

The government endorsed the idea of a wholescale revamp of the country’s aviation assets in December last year. The DoA was given the task of projecting passenger growth and devising a development strategy that would accommodate it.

The public sector budget for refurbishment in 2018 has been set only at $195m, with priority being given to the upgrading Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Khon Kaen, all of which need larger passenger terminals, new runways and parking bays.

The small state allocation leaves room for private investors to step in.

Image: Thai Airways offices in the northern Thai town of Chiang Mai (Airlines-Airports)

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  1. Hopefully they will maintain the unique character of Samui airport!

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