U-tapao projects aim to prop up economy

GAA wants to increase capacity of refuelling services at U-tapao airport to accommodate 60 million passengers a year.
GAA wants to increase capacity of refuelling services at U-tapao airport to accommodate 60 million passengers a year.

The government has high hopes for the new aviation fuel service systems at U-tapao airport and the Eastern Aviation City development projects, expecting them to play a part in restoring Thailand’s pandemic-hit economy.

Speaking on Thursday after presiding over the virtual signing ceremony of an agreement to lease state property controlled by the Finance Ministry to Global Aero Associates Co (GAA), Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said the project is an important step in developing the government’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and improving investor confidence in the area. The EEC is expected to help lead an economic revival in the country.

Established on Aug 15 to operate, manage and provide aviation fuel service systems at U-tapao airport and other related businesses, GAA has registered capital of 600 million baht. Bangkok Aviation Fuel Services Plc (BAFS) and PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc (OR) own 55% and 45%, respectively.

The initial investment in the new aviation fuel service systems and the state property lease contract is worth around 2.3 billion baht.

According to M.L. Nathasit Diskul, chief executive of GAA, the firm plans to increase the capacity of U-tapao’s aviation fuel service system to accommodate 60 million passengers per year, with consistent aircraft refuelling services to support the airport’s commercial operations date of 2024. The company also wants to support the EEC’s growth based on the government’s national development policy, he said.

“GAA is ready to play a key role in promoting the development of transport infrastructure and advanced technology to improve Thailand’s quality of life and take the country’s competitiveness to the next level,” said M.L. Nathasit.

“Thanks to more than 30 years of experience in aviation fuel management and refuelling services for aviation and energy businesses, BAFS and OR are confident in advancing GAA’s capabilities, expertise and modern technology to provide efficient fuel management services to aircraft at U-tapao airport. We are promoting an ‘open access’ fuel trading system whereby every oil company can access GAA facilities as well as the hydrant pipeline network under the airport parking area.”

All operations will meet international standards, he said.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said construction at U-tapao airport is expected to start next year, aiming to make it the third international airport in the Bangkok vicinity under a scheme that links it with Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. The scheme plans to increase their handling capacity to 200 million passengers annually.

The Eastern Aviation City development is one of five large government infrastructure projects in the EEC. The government signed a contract on June 19 with BBS consortium for the 290-billion-baht Eastern Airport City project at U-tapao.

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