The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) is the great hope for Thailand to leap aboard the Industry 4.0 evolution, breaking it free from the middle income trap and propelling it to upper-middle-income status. At the heart of the US$45 billion project is the former American war with Vietnam era B52 bomber base in Ban Chang District of Rayong Province, U-Tapao International Airport.
A joint civil–military public airport, U-Tapao International Airport is key to Thailand’s goal of becoming the most significant aerospace hub in Asean, and to helping take the strain off Bangkok’s two existing international airports, Don Mueang International Airport, and Suvarnabhumi Airport.
In the this special report NBT News Today takes an in-depth look at the development being undertaken and planned at U-Tapao International Airport, and its key role in the the success of the EEC and Thailand 4.0 strategy.
Director of the U-Tapao Airport Authority, Rear Admiral Luechai Sri-Eamgool tells News Today that over 240 million overseas visitors are projected to be arriving in Thailand annually by 2022, a 9.5 per cent yearly increase. U-Tapao International Airport will be key in helping ease congestion on both Bangkok airports.
Additionally, he says, U-Tapao International Airport will provide an alternate gateway for flights to neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, with the expansion plans designed to first provide for 15 million passengers a year (about 41,095 passengers a day), with additional expansion taking capacity up to 260 million passengers annually.
With a total area of some 1,618 hectares (4,000 acres), U-Tapao International Airport will also be at the heart of Thailand’s push to become the major aerospace hub in Asean.
The EEC Aeropolis plan sees the area surrounding U-Tapao International Airport grow into a giant aerospace-focused city comprising free trade, logistics, and aerospace industry commercial and industrial facilities, such as an airline MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) Centre.
Complementing this will be modern motorways and two deep sea ports. In addition, an R&D centre and aviation training centre for skilled technicians and engineers is also planned.
Feature video News Today
- Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor: Why Thailand? (video) (AEC News Today)
- Industry 4.0, Thailand 4.0: What’s it All Mean? (video) (AEC News Today)
- Cabinet approves high-speed train project linking 3 main airports (Bangkok Post)
- Thai Technical hopes to win 20% of regional MRO work (Flight Global)
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.
He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.