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
U-Tapao International Airport ATC Tower.jpg
Airport type Public / Military
Operator Royal Thai Navy
Serves Chonburi-Pattaya Metropolitain Area
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
UTP is located in Thailand
Location of airport in Thailand
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.


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).


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, Air France, Air Madagascar, Aeroflot, ANA, Asiana, Austrian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, China Airlines(Taiwan), 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, KLM, Korean Air Lines, 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.[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]

2015 International expansion[edit]

With Thai Air Asia looking to provide for expansions and the capital's two international airports as well as Phuket all operating beyond capacity and capacity expansions to not be completed in the near term, U-tapao has been promoted as an alternate gateway so as to maximize tourist access.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
AirAsia Kuala Lumpur
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui, Phuket
Kan Air Chiang Mai[16]
Thai AirAsia Chiang Mai ,[17] Hat Yai (begins 3 December 2015),[18] Macau,[19] Nanchang,[17] Nanning,[17] Singapore, Udon Thani [20]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

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 the aircraft were killed in the hijacking. The airliner was on a flight from Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc Airport, Duong Dong.[21]


External links[edit]