U-Tapao International Airport
|U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport|
|IATA: UTP – ICAO: VTBU
|Airport type||Public / Military|
|Elevation AMSL||42 ft / 13 m|
- For the military use of the facility see U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield
U-Tapao-Pattaya International Airport (Thai: ท่าอากาศยานนานาชาติอู่ตะเภา) (IATA: UTP, ICAO: VTBU) also spelled Utapao and U-Taphao, is a joint civil-military public airport serving Rayong and Pattaya, cities in Thailand. It is approximately 90 miles (140 km) southeast of Bangkok, near Sattahip on the Gulf of Siam. It is located south of route 3 (Thanon Sukhumvit) at km 189, about a 45 minute drive from Pattaya (Thailand's most popular beach resort).
It also serves as the U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, home of the Royal Thai Navy First Air Wing. U-Tapao is the home of a large Thai Airways maintenance facility, servicing that airline's aircraft as well as those of other customers. Due to the blockade of Bangkok's airports by opposition protesters, U-Tapao briefly became the main air gateway to Thailand between November 26 and December 5, 2008.
During the Vietnam War U-Tapao was a military base for the United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers, known as "Bi-hasip-sawng" to the local people. U-Tapao was a front-line base along with the other US bases at Korat, Udon, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom and Takhli. The USAF B-52 made regular sorties over Thailand's eastern neighbors, especially North Vietnam, carrying an average of 108 bombs of 500 and 750 pounds per mission. Entertainer Bob Hope used to visit the base every year between 1964 and 1972 with his USO Christmas show.
November 2008 protests in Bangkok
Airlines including AirAsia, Air France, Air Madagascar, Aeroflot, ANA, Asiana, Austrian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, China Airlines, El Al, Emirates, Etihad, Ethiopian Airlines, Eva Air, Garuda Indonesia, Hong Kong Express, Iberworld, Indian Airlines, Iran Air, Japan Air Lines, Jet Airways, Jetstar, Kenya Airways, Korean Air Lines, KLM, Kuwait Airways, MAI, Mahan Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways, S7 Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, Thai AirAsia, Orient Thai, Tiger Airways, Transaero and Vladivostok Avia arranged special flights from and to U-Tapao to ferry international passengers stranded because of the seizure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Several governments including Italy, Macau and Spain also sent chartered flights to evacuate residents.
As many as 100,000 passengers were stranded in Thailand until early-December. Although its runway can accommodate large aircraft, U-Tapao's terminals are not designed to handle more than a few flights a day. Travellers were subject to many hardships, and since the security was not up-to-date, some US-bound flights were diverted to Japan in order to make the passengers go through a supplementary security-check.
Airlines and destinations
|Bangkok Airways||Ko Samui, Phuket|
|China Airlines||Charter: Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taoyuan|
|China Southern Airlines||Charter: Guangzhou|
|China Eastern Airlines||Charter: Shanghai-Pudong|
|Japan Airlines||Charter: Osaka-Kansai, Tokyo-Narita|
|Dragonair||Charter: Hong Kong|
|Korean Air||Charter: Busan, Seoul-Incheon|
|Solar Air||Hua Hin|
|Legacy Air||Siem Reap|
|UTair Aviation||Charter: Novosibirsk, Omsk, Rostov-on-Don|
|SCAT Airlines||Charter: Almaty, Astana|
Accidents and incidents
On 28 October 1977, a Douglas DC-3 of Air Vietnam was hijacked to U-Tapao International Airport where the four hijackers surrendered. Two people on board the aircraft were killed in the hijacking. The aircraft was on a flight from Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc Airport, Duong Dong.
- Airport information for VTBU at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Airport information for UTP at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective Oct. 2006).
- U-tapao back on the map; Bangkok Post, Dec 7-2008 issue.
- ANA International Flight Status
- Cathay Pacific
- Page 6, South China Morning Post, 30 November, 2008.
- "Hijacking description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 August 2010.