5 June 2015
U-Tapao is located in Ban Chang district, Rayong province. It is about 140 kilometers southeast of Bangkok and about a 45-minute drive from Pattaya.
Transport Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy Admiral Kraisorn Chansuwanich on 3 June 2015 signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on the development of U-Tapao Airport. The project came after Head of the National Council for Peace and Order General Prayut Chan-o-cha on 29 July 2014 instructed the Ministry of Transport and the Royal Thai Navy to cooperate in seeking ways to develop U-Tapao as Bangkok’s third commercial airport.
The development project also involves the construction of an "airport link,” connecting Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, and U-Tapao with the city of Bangkok in order to cope with the growing air traffic in the future.
The Ministry of Transport and the Royal Thai Navy began to discuss the project in December 2014, and later, they decided to upgrade U-Tapao, under the concept of "One Airport, Two Missions.” According to the MOC, they will work together in infrastructure development and business planning, under the management of the airport by the Royal Thai Navy.
The development of U-Tapao Airport is divided into three phases. In the first phase, to be carried out from 2015 to 2017, a new passenger terminal will be constructed together with other facilities. With the new building and the existing passenger terminal, the airport will have the capacity to accommodate three million passengers a year. Construction of the second passenger terminal will be completed in 2016.
If the numbers of flights and passengers increase significantly beyond expectation, Airports of Thailand Public Company and Thai International Airways will offer a helping hand in terms of ground services, if requested by the Royal Thai Navy.
Various relevant agencies have also been urged to develop the cluster of eastern provinces into a major tourist destination, so that more passengers will use services at U-Tapao Airport.
The second phase will be implemented from 2018 to 2020 to prepare for accommodating five million passengers a year. The third phase will be implemented from 2020 onwards. It will involve the development of landside and airside, as well as other facilities to enhance the airport's potential, so that it will be able to cope with aviation growth in the future.
After the signing of the MOC, two working groups will be formed to carry out the project, starting from June 2015 onwards.