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Pattaya Daily News

23 March 2011 :: 13:03:15 pm 51921

The Government Postpones U-Tapao Airport Project

U-Tapao Airport project has been postponed as the central government withdraws its budget and uses it for another project, raising much concerns for the region's economic growth.
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Pattaya, 22nd March 2011 [Pattaya Daily News]: Currently, U-Tapao International Airport in Rayong is the next airport gateway following Thailand’s main international airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport. However, the U-Tapao airport, which has not been renovated for a long time, is only able to accommodate up to 400 passengers per hour. The Thai government has proposed extending the airport. The proposal has been approved with the provided budget of approximately 600 million Baht for the new buildings and about 100 million Baht for a runway.

These facilities were to commence in the fiscal/financial year in 2553/2010. At the completion, the airport should have been able to accommodate up to 1,500 passengers per hour, which would be four times bigger than the former capacity. The airport could be a way to develop the commercial trading and tourism industry within the Eastern region. Foreigners could fly directly to U-Tapao Airport by charter flights.

Nonetheless, the Chairman of Pattaya Sports and Tourism Board, Mr. Ratanachai Suttidechanai, recently revealed that the project has been postponed. The budget approval process has been delayed because some extensions required longer times to do, for examples, building new runway and a fuel plant; purchasing fire trucks and X-ray machines, etc. The government had to withdraw the budget from U-Tapao Airport project and used it for Thai Khem Khaeng Project, the current core project of the government.

Pattaya local government and the Navy Army will submit an explanation to the government that will justify the necessity of extending U-Tapao airport and hence the importance of providing the budget as soon as possible, since the budget has not been cut yet.

Mr. Niti Konggrut, the Director of Thailand Authority Tourism, Pattaya Branch said that if the project was halted, it could affect the tourism and transportation development for at least 3-5 years.
The trip from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya might not take long, as compared to when travelling to other provinces in the East region, which take a very time. Pattaya will be affected by 20-30% and nearby provinces such as Trade, Rayong will also be affected, Mr. Niti said.

The U-Tapao extension is a huge project for this region as it is a collaboration between Pattaya and Navy Army. However, this project has been held back by the government. It is a matter of waiting to see how these two big agencies could pull it together and make the project a success.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Tourism News

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