B2.16bn approved for aviation push

Airport officers walking at U-tapao airport. The government recently approved funds to construct a training centre for the aviation industry at the airport. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

The cabinet yesterday approved 2.16 billion baht for the construction of a training centre for human resource development for the aviation industry and to study potential investment projects at U-tapao airport and Sattahip port.

Kobsak Phutrakul, assistant minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, said 1.4 billion baht would go to setting up the training centre, to be operated by the Civil Aviation Training Center.

Construction of the centre will begin next year and be completed in 2021. The facility is intended to enhance Thailand’s ambitious plans to become the region’s aviation hub.

Mr Kobsak said the remaining 760 million baht from the central budget for fiscal 2017 will be allocated to study 12 potential development projects at U-tapao airport and Sattahip port.

Key projects include the airport’s high-speed taxiways, software for the second terminal, the master plan for the utilisation of the land around U-tapao airport and nearby areas, and the development of a major new maintenance, repair and overhaul facility.

Mr Kobsak said those projects, once implemented, will help significantly to increase capacity at the airport.

The U-tapao airport development is the first infrastructure project the government has seriously pushed bidding on this year.

Other fast-track developments are the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail project worth 158 billion baht, which is expected to be opened for bidding this year.

Under the U-tapao development plan, the airport will be upgraded to handle annual passenger capacity of 15 million passengers a year in the first phase (2017-21), up from 3 million now. The second phase calls for servicing 30 million passengers in 10 years. The final stage is to handle 60 million passengers in 20 years.

The development is projected to require combined investment of 200 billion baht.

Meanwhile, Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suvit Maesincee, said the cabinet yesterday also approved 1.85 billion baht to promote the use of rubber among state bodies, mainly the Agriculture, Defence and Tourism and Sports ministries.

Of the total budget, 1.55 billion baht will be earmarked for the Defence Ministry to buy rubber mattresses and car tyres and construct a multipurpose playground and road. Another 164 million baht will be allocated to the Agriculture Ministry, while 135 million has been slated for the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

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