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Thailand approves 290b baht airport project adding new terminal

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Thailand's Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bid by a consortium led by BTS Group Holdings for an airport development project worth 290 billion baht (S$12.87 billion).

[BANGKOK] Thailand's Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bid by a consortium led by BTS Group Holdings for an airport development project worth 290 billion baht (S$12.87 billion).

The project will add a third passenger terminal at the U-Tapao International Airport near Pattaya, which in normal times is a tourist hot-spot, and develop other facilities like air cargo and aviation maintenance centres.

The airport project is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor, a 1.7 trillion baht plan to build infrastructure and develop advanced industries along the eastern seaboard. The corridor is the government's attempt to bolster long-term investment to improve Thailand's economic outlook, which has been badly damaged in the recent weeks by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Apart from BTS Group, the consortium includes Bangkok Airways and Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction. The public-private partnership contract is due be to signed on June 19. Narita International Airport Corp has been selected to manage the airport.

BTS Group and Sino-Thai will handle construction, and Bangkok Airways will bring its aviation expertise, said Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary general of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office.

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Mr Kanit added that his office is in talks with DHL Worldwide Express and FedEx for the air cargo business planned at the airport complex.

Last year, a group led by Charoen Pokphand Group signed a contract to build high-speed rail connections between U-Tapao and the two international airports in Bangkok, one of the biggest transport upgrades in the country's history.

Officials expect U-Tapao to have capacity for as many as 60 million passengers per year once it's expanded.

The plans for the airport and rail links were put in place before the coronavirus flared up and brought tourism to a standstill. Most international incoming flights are banned until the end of June, and it remains unclear what tourism will look like when the curbs are eased.

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