Thailand, Vietnam, and its neighbors compete in airport expansion race.
Southeast Asian countries are rushing to expand their major airports to meet rising domestic demand as well as attract foreign investment and travelers to boost economic growth, although some plans are raising concerns about over-investment.
According to Nikkei research into expansion plans for airports near the capital cities of seven countries in the region -- Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Cambodia -- total annual passenger handling capacity will reach at least 653 million people by 2030, nearly doubling from the 336 million people as of January 2023.
In Thailand, a satellite terminal opened at Suvarnabhumi Airport near Bangkok in September. The launch comes at "the best time for reviving the domestic economy," Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said at the opening ceremony. He expressed hope that the expansion would contribute to the recovery of Thailand's tourism industry, which was hurt by the pandemic.
The terminal can host up to 28 aircraft and handle 15 million passengers a year. Once fully operational, the airport's overall capacity will increase by 30% to 60 million passengers annually, easing congestion.
The airport also expects a third runway to be completed in 2024. It further aims to build a second satellite terminal and another runway by 2030 and increase annual passenger handling capacity to 150 million.