|IATA: BKK – ICAO: VTBS|
|Operator||Airports of Thailand PLC (AOT)|
|Serves||Bangkok and Samut Prakan|
|Location||999 moo 1 Tambon Racha Thewa, Amphoe Bang Phli, Samut Prakan, Thailand|
|Hub for||Asia Atlantic Airlines
Jet Asia Airways
Orient Thai Airlines
Thai Airways International
|Focus city for||Cathay Pacific
|Elevation AMSL||5 ft / 2 m|
|Location in Samut Prakan Province, Greater Bangkok|
Suvarnabhumi Airport (rtgs: Suwannaphum; Thai pronunciation: [sù.wān.ná.pʰūːm]) (IATA: BKK, ICAO: VTBS), also known as (New) Bangkok International Airport, is one of two international airports serving Bangkok, Thailand. The other one is Don Mueang International Airport. Suvarnabhumi covers an area of 2,980 hectares (7,400 acres).
Suvarnabhumi was officially opened for limited domestic flight service on 15 September 2006, and opened for most domestic and all international commercial flights on 28 September 2006.
The airport is located on what had formerly been known as Nong Nguhao (Cobra Swamp) in Racha Thewa in Bang Phli, Samut Prakan, about 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of downtown Bangkok. The name Suvarnabhumi (from Sanskrit: स्वर्णभूमि (IAST: Svarṇabhūmi, "Golden Land")), was chosen by King Bhumibol Adulyadej and refers to the golden kingdom, hypothesised to have been located somewhere in Southeast Asia.
The building was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy / Jahn Architects. It was constructed primarily by ITO JV. The airport has the world's tallest free-standing control tower (132.2 metres or 434 feet), and the world's fourth largest single-building airport terminal (563,000 square metres or 6,060,000 square feet).
Suvarnabhumi is the twentieth busiest airport in the world, sixth busiest airport in Asia, and the busiest in the country, having handled 53 million passengers in 2012, and is also a major air cargo hub, with a total of 95 airlines. On social networks, Suvarnabhumi is the world's most popular place where Instagram photographs were taken in 2012.
The airport inherited the airport code, BKK, from Don Mueang after the older airport ceased international commercial flights. A modern motorway no.7 connects the airport, Bangkok, and the heavily industrial Eastern Seaboard of Thailand, where most of the manufacturing for export takes place.
- 1 History
- 2 Features
- 3 Events
- 4 Predatory irregularities
- 5 Specifications
- 6 Airlines and destinations
- 7 Traffic and statistics
- 8 Ground transportation
- 9 Sky Lane
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Land purchase, early construction
The need for the new airport was recognized in 1973 when 8,000 acres of land was purchased 40 kilometres east of Bangkok. The site, known as Cobra Swamp, was drained and named Suvarnabhumi meaning Realm of Gold. In 14 October 1973, student-led protests led the overthrow of the military government of Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn and the project was shelved.
After a series of ups and downs, the "New Bangkok International Airport" company (NBIA) was formed in 1996. Due to political and economic instabilities, notably the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the civil construction began six years later in January 2002 by the government of Thaksin Shinawatra.
Early construction, airport tests, and official opening
A further delay was caused by the discovery that the airport had been built over an old graveyard, and superstitious construction workers claimed to have seen ghosts there. On 23 September 2005, the Thai airports authority held a ceremony where 99 Buddhist monks chanted to appease the spirits.
Full tests of the airport took place on 3 and 29 July 2006. Six airlines – Thai Airways International, Nok Air, Thai Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, PBair, and One-Two-GO – used the airport as a base for twenty domestic flights. The first international test flights were conducted on 1 September 2006. Two THAI's aircraft, Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A300-600, simultaneously departed the airport at 09:19 to Singapore and Hong Kong. At 15:50 the same aircraft flew back and made simultaneous touchdowns on runways 19L and 19R. These test flights demonstrated the readiness of the airport to handle heavy traffic.
On 15 September 2006, the airport started limited daily operations with Jetstar Asia Airways operating three Singapore to Bangkok flights 3K511.[clarification needed] The first commercial arrival Singapore flight 3K512 and Thai Airways International operating some domestic flights to Phitsanulok, Chiang Mai and Ubon Ratchathani. Bangkok Airways moved on 21 September, AirAsia and Thai AirAsia followed suit on 25 September and on 26 September Nok Air moved to Suvarnabhumi Airport. During this initial phase, as well as in the previous tests, the airport used the temporary IATA code NBK.
Suvarnabhumi officially opened at 03:00 on 28 September 2006, taking over all flights from Don Mueang. The first flight to arrive was Lufthansa Cargo flight LH8442 from Mumbai at 03:05. The first commercial when officially opened arrival was from Japan Airlines at 03:30. The first passenger arrival was Aerosvit flight VV171 from Kiev at 04:30, and the first cargo departure was Saudi Arabian Airlines flight SV-984 to Riyadh at 05:00. Aerosvit also had the first passenger departure (VV172 to Kiev) around 05:30.
Many difficulties were recorded in the first few days of the airport's operation. On the first day alone, sluggish luggage claims were common – the very first passenger arrival by Aerosvit took an hour for the luggage to start coming out, and some flights did not have their luggage coming out even after four hours. Also flights were delayed (Thai Airways claimed that 17 of 19 flights were delayed that day), and there were also failures with the check-in system. Subsequent problems included the failure of the cargo computer system, and the departure boards displaying the wrong information, resulting in confused passengers (especially as unlike Don Mueang, there were no "final calls" issued).
Months into its opening, issues such as congestion, construction quality, signage, provision of facilities, and soil subsidence continued to plague the project, prompting calls to reopen Don Mueang to allow for repairs to be done. Expert opinions varied widely regarding the extent of Suvarnabhumi's problems as well as their root cause; most airlines stated that damage to the airport was minimal. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont decided on 16 February 2007 to reopen Don Mueang for domestic flights on a voluntary basis, with 71 weekly flights moved back initially, with no international flights allowed.
Capacity and safety issues
In January 2007, ruts were discovered in the runways at Suvarnabhumi. The east runway was scheduled to close for repairs. Expert opinions have varied widely as to the root cause of the ruts. Airport authorities and airline representatives maintained that the airport was still safe and resisted suggestions that the airport should be completely closed and all flights moved back to Don Mueang.
On 27 January 2007, however, the Department of Civil Aviation declined to renew the airport's safety certificate, which expired the previous day. The ICAO requires that international airports hold aerodrome safety certificates, but Suvarnabhumi will continue to operate because the ICAO requirement has yet to be adopted as part of Thai law.
As of early-2016 tarmac problems persist at Suvarabhumi. Soft spots on the tarmac, taxiways and apron area have not been permanently fixed. Aircraft get stuck in the soft surfaces that are the result of sub-standard materials. "The constant resurfacing of the tarmac, taxiways and apron area with asphalt is an unacceptable patchwork solution. We literally need a "concrete" solution," said Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and CEO.
Plans to re-open Don Mueang for domestic flights
In January 2007, Thai Airways announced a plan to move some of its domestic operations back to Don Mueang International Airport due to overcrowding. Three days later, the Ministry of Transport recommended temporarily reopening Don Mueang while repair work on the runways at Suvarnabhumi proceeds. At that time, Thai Airways said it would shift most of its domestic flights back to Don Mueang while keeping flights with high international passenger connections such as Chiang Mai and Phuket at Suvarnabhumi. On 28 March 2009, Thai Airways discontinued all domestic flights from Don Mueang. Bangkok Airways and One-Two-GO had similar plans, but Bangkok Airways remained at Suvarnabhumi. Thai AirAsia said it would not move unless it could shift both its international and domestic operations, prompting them to stay at Suvarnabhumi for the time being. Nok Air and PBair were undecided, but Nok Air later relocated all their flights to Don Mueang, where they operate today. As of January 2010, only Nok Air and One-Two-Go operate domestic flights from Don Mueang Airport. PBair have ceased operations altogether. One-Two-Go was integrated into Orient Thai Airlines in July 2010, but continues to operate from Don Mueang Airport. As of 1 October 2012 Air Asia has moved all of its Bangkok operations to Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK).
Repair and upgrades
Airports of Thailand found that the cost of fixing 60 identified problems at the airport would be less than 1% of the total airline cost and the problems could be fixed in up to four to five years. Dr. Narupol Chaiyut, a member of a committee overseeing service problems at the new airport, estimated that 70% of the problems would be fixed within 2007. Twenty of the 60 problems were successfully fixed by February 2007.
Suvarnabhumi Airport's main terminal roof is designed with structural elements and bays placed in a cantilevered, wavelike form to appear to "float" over the concourse beneath. This overall design principle was to express the former essence of the site, from which water had to be drained before construction could begin. The eight composite 2,710-ton trusses supporting the canopy of the main terminal are essentially diagrams of the bending moments acting on them, with the greatest depth at mid-span and over the supports.
The result of Helmut Jahn's vision is a structure with performance materials serve in their total composition and in use more than in their conventional roles. This maximizes daylight use in comfort with substantial energy life-cycle cost savings. The installed cooling system reduced up to 50% compared to a conventional system. A translucent membrane with three layers was developed to mediate between the interior and exterior climate, dealing with noise and temperature transmission, while still allowing natural flow of daylight into building.
On 25 January 2007, due to work to the upgrading the taxiways, which suffered from small cracks, few incoming flights were delayed and several flights were safely diverted to a nearby operating U-Tapao International Airport in Rayong province.
On 26 November 2008, an illegal occupation of the airport took place by People's Alliance for Democracy, closing the departure lounge and blocking exits and causing almost three thousand passengers stranded within the main terminal, another 350,000 were stranded inside the country, as all flights were grounded for a short while. The People's Alliance for Democracy seized the control tower at 12:00 am. On 2 December 2008, protesters agreed to leave the airport as they had been illegally protesting and permitted the resumption of flights. Security checks, clean-ups and re-certification once the illegal occupation ended delayed the airport from being fully functional until 5 December 2008.
Petty thieves and confidence men, the majority of them illegal taxi drivers or tour guides, are known to prey on tourists in the arrival hall. They belong to politically-well connected criminal groups: Kamnan Samruay, Boonruang Srisang, Sak Pakphanang, the Pattaya Mafia and Phuyai Daeng. Evicting them has proved difficult as they allegedly are well connected. (The head of the Pirap gang is supposedly related to an Airports of Thailand executive, while the Phuyai Daeng has ties to influential civil servants in Samut Prakan.)
On 1 October 2010, two hundred armed men occupied the airport's parking area for an hour, blocking the building's entrances and seizing ticket booths to collect fares from motorists. Airport security personnel failed to respond, reportedly because of an internal dispute within the Parking Management Company, the firm contracted to run the parking facilities.
Costing an estimated ฿155 billion (US$5 billion), the airport has two parallel runways (60 m wide, 4,000 m and 3,700 m long) and two parallel taxiways to accommodate simultaneous departures and arrivals. It has a total of 120 parking bays (51 with contact gates and 69 remote gates), with five of these capable of accommodating the Airbus A380. The main passenger terminal building, with a capacity of handling 76 flight operations per hour, co-locates the international and domestic terminals, though assigning them to different parts of the concourse. In the initial phase of construction, it will be capable of handling 45 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of cargo per year. Above the underground rail link station and in front of the passenger terminal building is a 600-room hotel operated by Accor Group under the Novotel brand.
The airport's passenger terminal is the world's largest passenger terminal ever constructed in one phase at 563,000 square metres (6,060,000 sq ft), and is also currently the fourth biggest passenger terminal building in the world, after the Hong Kong International Airport (570,000 square metres or 6,100,000 square feet), Beijing Capital International Airport (990,000 square metres or 10,700,000 square feet), with the largest passenger terminal being at Dubai International Airport (Terminal 3 is over 1,500,000 square metres or 16,000,000 square feet). The airport air-traffic control tower is the tallest in world history at 135 metres (443 ft).
Suvarnabhumi Airport has 72 jet bridges and 69 non-jet bridges. Additionally, flights are also able to park at remote locations on the ramp, from which airport buses transport passengers to and from the terminal. Suvarnabhumi Airport has 18 jet bridges and 6 non-jet bridges for Airbus 380–800
On 15 December 2011 Airports of Thailand (AOT) announced the speed up of the second phase expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport to 2016, one year ahead of its scheduled completion in 2017.
An investment of 62.5 billion baht (US$1.95 billion/€1.49 billion) is being planned for the second phase, according to then Transport Minister Sukampol Suwannathat. The plan is to strengthen Suvarnabhumi Airport's position as a regional aviation hub. Phase Two would raise the airport's capacity to 65 million passengers a year and should also be undertaken in parallel with the construction of the new domestic terminal.
Earlier transport Minister ACM Sukampol Suwannathat gave the green light to Airports of Thailand (AoT)'s plan to carry out the expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport with the construction of a new domestic terminal. The new domestic terminal will be capable of handling 20 million passengers a year. Estimated cost is 9.2 billion Baht.(US$2.96 billion/€2.04 billion).
By mid-2015, the airport was handling more than 800 flights per day, higher than its 600-flight capacity and has exceeded its capacity of 45 million passengers per year.
The two expansion projects are part of the overall airport enlargement that would see Suvarnabhumi raise its annual passenger handling capacity to 125 million passengers, 90 million international and 35 million domestic passengers by 2024 at an estimated cost of 163 billion baht.($5.25 billion USD/€3.62 billion EURO) The expansion includes the construction of one additional runway from two at the present, subsequent enlargement of domestic and international terminals and improvements to parking bays, car parks, and other airport infrastructure.
An expansion plan to increase the passenger capacity of the airport to 65 million by building an additional satellite passenger terminal linked to the current main terminal via an underground automated people mover (APM) system is set to be voted on by the AOT board during a 17 May 2012 meeting. If the plan gains endorsement by the board it will be able to proceed to appointing a project management consultant (PMC) which will bring it one step closer to commencing construction on the much needed expansion. If all goes to plan the expansion is set to be completed in 2018. The expansion also includes a plan to expand the airport parking garage as well as the expansion of the eastern end of the main passenger terminal by 135 meters along with the construction of a new airline office building. The expansion does not include plans to construct a third runway, however. According to the Bangkok Post, the new satellite terminal will have a total of 28 gates, with 8 for the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet.
The new passenger terminal will be used only by Bangkok Airways and flag carrier Thai Airways International. Furthermore, the airport wants to cluster the airlines belonging to an alliance.
Airlines and destinations
Traffic and statistics
Busiest international routes
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled 2014|| % Change
Busiest domestic routes
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled 2013|| % Change
|Passengers Handled 2012|
Traffic by calendar year
Suvarnabhumi accounted for the largest share of air traffic at Thailand's airports in 2015, handling 52.9 million passengers, up by nearly 14 percent from the previous year despite its passenger capacity of only 45 million a year. International passengers passing through Suvarnabhumi grew 15.9 percent to 44.2 million, while domestic volume edged up 4.87 percent to 8.68 million. Aircraft movements showed a 9.50 percent increase to 317,066, consisting of 247,584 international (up 11 percent) and 69,482 domestic (up 4.41 percent).
|Passengers||Change from previous year||Movements||Cargo
|Source: Airports Council International
Note : * In 2012, the government enjoined all low-cost airlines to move their hubs to DMK within October
Airport Rail Link
The 30-billion baht Suvarnabhumi Airport Link was opened on 23 August 2010, after multiple delays. The Airport Rail Link (ARL) is operated by SRTET, a subsidiary company of the State Railway of Thailand. The standard gauge line is 28.6 kilometers long and is elevated for most its length, running mostly above existing regional railway lines and parallel to the No. 7 Motorway and Si Rat Expressway. There is a short at-grade/underground segment as the line approaches the passenger terminal building of Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The ARL hours of service are 06.00 to 24.00. The ARL has two interchange stations, namely Phaya Thai (changing for BTS Green Line services) and Makkasan (linking Phetchaburi station of the MRT Blue Line). In the future, the ARL will complement the SRT Red Line commuter service, which comprises two-meter gauge, dual-track lines. The ARL may also be extended from Phaya Thai to Don Mueang via Bang Sue, given that the old Don Mueang International Airport has now been reopened for civil aviation under a dual-airport policy.
Meanwhile, SRT provides a suburban commuter train service between Lad Krabang (the nearest station to Suvarnabhumi on the East line, one station from the airport by Airport Rail Link) and the northern suburban city of Rangsit via downtown Bangkok and the old Don Mueang Airport. The train also connects with BTS and MRT at Phaya Thai and Phetchaburi stations respectively. A shuttle bus service linking the airport with Hua Takhe railway station is provided by BMTA. The train service is currently not as popular as the bus service because it requires a shuttle bus connection. The service will be stopped when the Airport Express Link is completed.
A free bus service connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang Airport operates from 05.00 until midnight. Three air-conditioned city bus routes are operated by Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) serve the airport's dedicated bus terminal
The airport has five main access routes. Among these the most convenient route is via the Bangkok Chon Buri Motorway (Highway No. 7). Another main airport entrance is in Samut Prakan province via the expressway from Bang Na to Bang Pakong.
The airport has provided five convenient entrance routes. The main route is via the motorway in the north of Bangkok, directly connecting Bangkok's downtown and Chon Buri province, the industrial and harbor city in eastern Thailand. However, another main airport entrance is located in Samut Prakan province, connecting an elevated highway in the south of Bangkok which lies from Bang Na to Bang Pakong.
In December 2015, the airport opened Sky Lane (Thai: สกายเลน), a bicycle lane around its perimeter. The cyclists can bring their bicycles and bike here for free. The entrance to Sky Lane is in the northeastern corner of the airport area. The Sky Lane is one direction track made only for bicycles without any intersection or traffic light, so the cyclist can be ensure that users will not get bothered by any vehicle. The Sky Lane takes 23.5 km of distance, making it the longest in Asia, with restrooms and light posts along the pathway. The entrance gate is open from 06:00 to 19:00.
- Airport information for VTBS at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Airport information for BKK at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
- 2011 Statistics
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