U-Tapao ready to become fully fledged commercial airport

U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport on Wednesday announced its readiness to become a fully functional commercial airport that can facilitate AirAsia Group’s flights, particularly those to to China which will commence later this year.

The airport has plans to add a new passenger terminal by February 2016, making it a major center for eastern tourism in time for the AEC.

Director Rear Admiral Wasinsap Chantawarin said that the airport welcomed the inaugural flight of AirAsia (Malaysia) AK 840 Kuala Lumpur-U Tapao serviced by an Airbus A320 with a capacity of 180 seats. The flight had a passenger load of over 85%, reflecting the airport’s great potential as a commercial flight hub.

The airport’s dimensions include a 3,505 meter long, 60 meter wide runway and its concrete parking area can accommodate up to 49 full sized airplanes. In 2014, the airport had a capacity of receiving 800,000 travelers.

The expansion plan is in full operation and includes the construction of a new passenger terminal set to be complete by February 2016. The addition will allow the airport to accommodate 1,500 more travelers at a time to serve up to 3 million people a year, in line with the plans of commercial airlines to begin service during the fourth quarter of 2015.

AirAsia Group is the airport’s main focus at this time as AirAsia Berhad from Malaysia began regular service today of its direct U-Tapao-Kuala Lumpur flight, which will operate 4 times weekly (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) to a strong reception.

“We are confident U-Tapao will be a strong new base for flight operations for growing commercial airlines, especially because it will serve as a connection to economic zones in the East and because Pattaya is a rapidly expanding tourism center” Rear Admiral Wasinsap remarked.

Santisuk Klongchaiya, director of Commercial for Thai AirAsia, remarked that Thai AirAsia has targeted introducing routes from U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport to destinations in China by August and will begin regular flights in October. The airline is confident in the airport’s readiness and the potential of the city of Pattaya and province of Rayong to attract travelers and investors.