Market Sounding Session for the Development of U-Tapao Airport as a Regional Aviation Hub through Public Private Partnership
On 15 June 2018 at 09.10 am Admiral Naris Pratoomsuwan, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), representing the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, presided over the opening ceremony of the market sounding session for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Project: U-Tapao Airport, which was held at the Chao Phraya Room, Royal Thai Navy Convention Hall, Bangkok. The event aimed to provide the participants, who comprised representatives from government agencies and the private sector from aviation related businesses such as airport operators, airlines, air cargoes, ground and fuel service providers, property developers, banking and financial institutions, investors and trade associations from Thailand and abroad, with project information and associated plans and policies, and to invite expressions of interest. It began with a video presentation and a report by Admiral Sophon Wattanamongkol, President of the RTN Advisory Group and President of the Eastern Economic Corridor Project Office, RTN.
To realize the ‘Thailand 4.0’ goal, the government and the Ministry of Defence are accelerating development of the EEC, which is earmarked as the key engine for Thailand’s sustainable economic growth, Admiral Naris indicated. Under the EEC scheme, the upgrade of U-Tapao Airport into Bangkok’s third major commercial airport and a regional aviation hub is one of the primary infrastructure projects. As such, this event was organized to present feasible public private partnership (PPP) options and deliberate on the most appropriate option for promoting business opportunities for the private sector. The program also targeted private sector participation in boosting the national economy.
Expansion of U-Tapao Airport will enhance its capacity to handle greater volumes of passengers, freight and flights, with concomitant promotion of multimodal connectivity to Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. The project comprises airport expansion, with the construction of the second runway and taxiway as well as the third passenger terminal, and the development of aviation-related industries in its vicinity, which include Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities, the Aviation Training Center, cargo facilities, Cargo Village, and commercial precinct.
After the opening session, Dr. Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary General of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO), delivered a keynote speech on “Policy of the Eastern Economic Corridor Project Development”; this was followed by a presentation on project information and a project feasibility assessment by the project consultants.
U-Tapao Airport and the project area in its vicinity occupy 6,500-rai or 1,040-hectares in Ban Chang District, Rayong Province. It will be upgraded to serve as Bangkok’s third major commercial airport. Upon completion, the project is expected to annually handle 60 million passengers. In addition to honing EEC development, it will boost national competitiveness in terms of industrial, trading, investment, tourism and personnel development.
The opinions and feedback obtained from this market sounding session will be taken into consideration for a further decision on the most viable investment approach. Another session focusing on the draft bidding documents and the draft PPP contract is scheduled to take place in September this year and the selection of private investors should be completed in early 2019.