BANGKOK: Tourists visiting Thailand could be arriving at a new airport in seven years.
That is if a proposal by the country's department of airports to build the facility in Nakhon Pathom province, west of Bangkok, gets the nod, according to Thai media reports.
The move is aimed at relieving congestion at the capital’s two main gateways - Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang - according to a Bangkok Post report on Saturday (Jul 20).
The 560-hectare facility would straddle Nakhon Pathom’s Bang Len and Nakhon Chaisi districts.
The 20 billion baht (US$646 million) project will be proposed to the transport ministry, before further discussion in a Cabinet hearing in August.
If approved, construction could begin in 2023 and the airport will be operational about two to three years later, the Bangkok Post quoted the department's deputy director-general Jarun Meesomboon.
“The investment could be in the form of a public-private joint venture or a state-owned project, pending further study,” Mr Meesomboon said.
Various private groups had shown keen interest in the project, he added, drawn by a very high economic internal rate of return of more than 20 per cent.
“We project more than one million passengers a year initially, with potential on par with key regional airports such as Khon Kaen and Surat Thani airports.
“Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi are struggling to find slots and serve private jets. The new airport will accommodate commercial airlines, private jets, chartered flights, helicopters and survey services,” Mr Meesomboon added.
The Nakhon Pathom airport will be able to handle up to 25 million passengers a year when completed, the report added.