U-Tapao International Airport

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For the military use of the facility, see U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield.
U-Tapao–Rayong–Pattaya International Airport
ท่าอากาศยานนานาชาติ
อู่ตะเภา-ระยอง-พัทยา
U-Tapao International Airport ATC Tower.jpg
IATA: UTPICAO: VTBU
Summary
Airport type Public / Military
Operator Royal Thai Navy
Serves Chonburi-Pattaya Metropolitain Area
Rayong
Location Ban Chang, Rayong, Thailand
Hub for Thai AirAsia
Elevation AMSL 42 ft / 13 m
Coordinates 12°40′47″N 101°00′18″E / 12.67972°N 101.00500°E / 12.67972; 101.00500Coordinates: 12°40′47″N 101°00′18″E / 12.67972°N 101.00500°E / 12.67972; 101.00500
Map
UTP is located in Thailand
UTP
UTP
Location of airport in Thailand
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
18/36 3,505 11,500 Asphalt
Source: DAFIF[1][2]

U-Tapao–Pattaya International Airport[3] (Thai: ท่าอากาศยานนานาชาติอู่ตะเภา) (IATA: UTPICAO: VTBU) also spelled Utapao and U-Taphao, is a joint civil–military public airport serving Rayong and Pattaya cities in Thailand. It is in Ban Chang District of Rayong Province.

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.[4] Due to the blockade of Bangkok's airports by opposition protesters, U-Tapao briefly became the main air gateway to Thailand between 26 November and 5 December 2008. As both of Bangkok's international airports essential to the country's tourist boom are operating beyond capacity as of 2015,[5][6] U-tapao in particular has been eyed as an alternate international gateway due to relative proximity to the capital.

Location[edit]

U-Tapao lies approximately 90 miles (140 km) southeast of Bangkok, south of Rte 3 (Thanon Sukhumvit) at km189, near Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand, about a 45-minute drive from Pattaya (Thailand's most popular beach resort).

History[edit]

Vietnam War[edit]

During the Vietnam War U-Tapao was a military base for United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers, called "Bee-hasip-sawng" (B-52) by the local Thais. U-Tapao was a front-line base along with the other US bases at Korat, Udon, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, and Takhli. The USAF B-52s made regular sorties over North Vietnam and North Vietnamese-controlled areas in Laos, carrying an average of 108 50-pound and 750-pound bombs per mission. Entertainer Bob Hope visited the base every year between 1964 and 1972 with his USO Christmas show.[7]

November 2008 protests in Bangkok[edit]

With the closure of Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang Airport in late November 2008 due to mobs, U-Tapao became for a time Thailand's main supplementary international gateway.

Airlines including AirAsia (Malaysia), Air China (China), Air France (France), Air Madagascar (Madagascar), Aeroflot (Russia), All Nippon Airways (Japan), Asiana Airlines (South Korea), Austrian Airlines (Austria), Bangkok Airways (Thailand), British Airways (United Kingdom), Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong), Cebu Pacific (Philippines), China Airlines (Taiwan), China Eastern Airlines (China), China Southern Airlines (China), El Al (Israel), Emirates (United Arab Emirates), Etihad Airways (United Arab Emirates), Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopia), EVA Air (Taiwan), Finnair (Finland), Garuda Indonesia (Indonesia), Hong Kong Express (Hong Kong), Iberworld (Spain), Indian Airlines (India), Iran Air (Iran), Japan Airlines (Japan), Jet Airways (India), Jetstar Airways (Australia), Kenya Airways (Kenya), KLM (Netherlands), Korean Air (South Korea), Kuwait Airways (Kuwait), LTU International (Germany), Lufthansa (Germany), Myanmar Airways International (Myanmar), Mahan Air (Iran), Malaysia Airlines (Malaysia), Nok Air (Thailand), Northwest Airlines (United States), Orient Thai Airlines (Thailand), Philippine Airlines (Philippines), Qantas (Australia), Qatar Airways (Qatar), S7 Airlines (Russia), Scandinavian Airlines (Denmark), Singapore Airlines (Singapore), Swiss International Air Lines (Switzerland), Thai Airways International (Thailand), Turkish Airlines (Turkey), Thai AirAsia (Thailand), Tiger Airways (Singapore), Transaero Airlines (Russia), United Airlines (United States), Vietnam Airlines (Vietnam), Vladivostok Avia (Russia), and Xiamen Airlines (China) arranged special flights from and to U-Tapao to ferry international passengers stranded because of the seizure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] 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.[11]

Airport expansion[edit]

As Bangkok's two international airports are operating beyond capacity, the government intends to turn U-Tapao into a third major destination for airlines. A new second terminal, which will increase airport capacity from 800,000 to three million persons per year, will open in late-2016. Airport director, Rear Adm Worapol Tongpricha, said the 620 million baht terminal is the start of a three-year, first-phase development. In the second phase, the government will boost the capacity further to five million people.[16]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
AirAsia Kuala Lumpur–International
Bangkok Airways Ko Samui, Phuket
China Southern Airlines Shanghai–Pudong
Kan Air Chiang Mai
Thai AirAsia Chiang Mai, Hangzhou, Hat Yai, Macau, Nanchang, Nanning, Singapore, Udon Thani

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 28 October 1977, a Douglas DC-3 of Air Vietnam en route from Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, to Duong Dong Airport, Phu Quoc, Vietnam, was hijacked and diverted to U-Tapao Air Base to refuel. Two Vietnamese officials on the aircraft were killed in the hijacking.[17]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Airport information for VTBU at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
  2. ^ Airport information for UTP at Great Circle Mapper. Source: DAFIF (effective October 2006).
  3. ^ (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20110525234510/http://www.utapao.com/files/UTP%20PROFILE.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ [1] Archived 6 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "New terminal to boost U-Tapao Airport". 
  6. ^ "Don Mueang is world's busiest LCC". The Nation. 15 September 2015. 
  7. ^ U-tapao back on the map; Bangkok Post, 7–2 Dec, 008 issue.
  8. ^ "ANA International Flight Status". Fli.ana.co.jp. 
  9. ^ "Cathay Pacific". Cathay Pacific. 
  10. ^ http://www.china-airlines.com/en/newsen/newsen000510.htm. Retrieved 2 December 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  11. ^ a b http://web.archive.org/web/20081202004509/http://www.evaair.com:80/html/b2c/english/eva/News/2008/LatestupdateonBangkokFlights.htm. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ http://www.hongkongexpress.com/web/eng/news_e.php?id=Special%20ticketing%20arrangement%20for%20BANGKOK%20flights
  13. ^ http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/Util/showPopup.jspx?method=window&windowUrl=/saa/en_UK/Util/BreakingNewsPopup.jsp?msgId=2
  14. ^ [2] Archived 5 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Page 6, South China Morning Post, 30 November 2008.
  16. ^ "U-Tapao airport takes new leap". Bangkok Post. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  17. ^ "Hijacking description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 Aug 2010. 

External links[edit]