Thailand to start $8.8bn ‘Eastern Aviation City’ this year

One Works’ image of its masterplan for U-Tapao
Thailand will start building an $8.8bn “aviation city” in eastern Rayong province this year, a government spokesperson said.

Tipanan Sirichana said the project would create 15,600 jobs in the first five years and drive growth in Thailand’s aviation industry.

The plan is to expand U-Tapao airport south of Pattaya. The 1,040ha scheme was approved in 2020 but covid stalled progress.

Bangkok metro operator BTS Group will oversee the expansion of the airport itself, adding a third terminal and other facilities.

Then a free trade zone will be built, called “Eastern Aviation City”.

The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)

Italian architect One Works devised a masterplan for the project for Indian conglomerate GMR Group, Thai AirAsia and other stakeholders.

The scheme is part of Thailand’s plan to boost growth on a coastal strip between Bangkok and Pattaya, known as the Eastern Economic Corridor.

As well as the U-Tapao plan, there will be schemes to expand international airports at Don Muang and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi, with all three linked by a $7.2bn high-speed railway.

U-Tapao was completed in 1966 by the US air force, which used it to base B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War. After the upgrade it is expected to have a passenger capacity of 60 million, putting it in the first tier of international airports.

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