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Suvarnabhumi Airport was among the top five airports in Asia Pacific with the highest passenger throughput in March 2012.

Bangkok, Dubai and Jakarta all had over 4.7 million passengers, reported Airports Council International (ACI), with Beijing in first at 6.6 million and Tokyo (Haneda) second at 5.8 million.

Suvarnabhumi Airport also has been voted by over 12 million passengers worldwide as the world’s 10th best airport in a recent survey conducted by a world’s leading airport and airline review website, SKYTRAX.

SKYTRAX World Airport Awards, which are considered the global benchmark of airport excellence and quality ranking. Among other international airports across the globe, Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport was ranked as the world’s 10th best airport for its outstanding service under the category of airports handling 30-50 million passengers annually.

SKYTRAX’s ranking of airport excellence was compiled from the online votes, cast via http://www.worldairportsurvey.com, by over 12 million passengers using the services of 385 airports worldwide during July 2011 and the beginning of 2012. The ratings are arranged into categories, such as Best regional airports, Best airports by size of airport, among others.

Congestion at Suvarnabhumi, has been worsening. The facility is currently running beyond its designed capacity of 45 million passengers per year.

Passenger throughput last year was 47.2 million and the number is expected to rise to 51 million this year.

The expansion of Suvarnabhumi, which was supposed to commence soon after the airport was opened in September 2006, has been delayed largely by the government’s inability to formulate a long-term airport policy.

It has been debating what to do with Don Mueang airport and whether the facility should be used to take the pressure off Suvarnabhumi.

Once completed, the 62.5-billion-baht (RM644.1 million) expansion project will increase Suvarnabhumi’s passenger handling capacity by 15 million to 60 million.

The expansion includes the construction of a satellite passenger terminal linked to the current main passenger terminal by an automated people mover (APM).

The plan also includes the extension of the existing main passenger terminal and car park buildings, though there will no third runway built.

The expansion will be true to the design and themes of the current terminal. According to the basic outline, the satellite terminal will have a total of 28 gates, with eight of them capable of handling the double-decker A380 superjumbo.

The future and current terminals will be linked by an underground tunnel, 51 metres in width and 700 metres in length.

Inside the tunnel, there will be the APM system, two service roads, two baggage conveyors and space for utilities.

The expansion programme will include a new 960,000-square-metre apron constructed for aircraft parking and manoeuvring.

The eastern end of the current passenger terminal will be extended by 135 metres and a new airline office building will be constructed.

The construction will take six years.

Source : The Bangkok Post, Pattaya Mail and Suvarnabhumi Airport

(this article written for 1BINA.my)