An air of anticipation was palatable as some of the very first passengers made their way to the newly launched satellite terminal, SAT-1, at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport on a fine Thursday afternoon. The soft launch on this day has marked the official opening of the terminal to the general public. Image credit goes to the talented photographer Varuth Hirunyatheb who beautifully captured this moment.
This ambitious addition, referred to as Satellite 1 (SAT-1), is a significant milestone in the airport’s constant pursuit of improvement. Hailed by the Suvarnabhumi Airport director, Kittipong Kittikachorn, it is poised to bolster the airport’s capacity to handle up to an impressive 60 million passengers a year, a notable surge from its previous capacity of 45 million.
“Despite the turbulence caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 17-year-old Suvarnabhumi airport has been witnessing a steady revival of passenger traffic,” said an optimistic Mr. Kittipong. And the numbers speak for themselves. The current fiscal year ending on September 30 recorded an uplifting uptick of 59.4% compared to the previous fiscal year, with a commendable number of 268,477 take-offs and landings.
Even more impressive has been the surge in the total volume of passengers. A booming increase of 153.4% was observed over the previous 12 months, with the figure reaching 44.4 million. Furthermore, throughout its 17 years of successful operation, the airport has played host to a staggering 756.47 million passengers on 4.74 million flights. Also, almost 21 million tonnes of cargo has been transported through the diligent work of Suvarnabhumi airport.
The relentless growth in passengers’ influx, rising steadily since the end of the pandemic, has necessitated the construction of SAT-1, complemented by the addition of a third runway. This strategic move will significantly increase the number of aircraft that can take off and land simultaneously.
Moreover, to further optimize operations, a state-of-the-art Individual Carrier System (ICS) has been installed at SAT-1. This addition is expected to considerably enhance the terminal’s baggage handling capacity, making the luggage transfer between SAT-1 and Suvarnabhumi airport’s main terminal a breeze.
According to Mr Kittipong, SAT-1 is set to be fully operational by the year-end. He also shared insights about a third runway that’s currently under construction and expected to be operational by July 2025. This runway will further extend the aircraft handling capacity from 68 flights per hour to an impressive 94 flights.
But the Suvarnabhumi airport management isn’t stopping here. There are plans afoot to work on further expanding the overall handling capacity, which comprise the construction of an annex situated to the east of the main terminal. This annex will stretch the terminal’s total area by an ample 66,000 square metres, equipping it to manage an additional 15 million passengers annually.
A green signal has been issued for the project by the cabinet, and the procurement proceedings are scheduled to commence next year. The airport aims to take it one step further by improving its cargo handling capacity, courtesy of the innovative Free Zone Data Management System and the handy EZ Cargo application.