The transport minister laid a foundation stone for the Betong airport in Yala that will cost THB1.9 billion to build, reports local media. The new airport is expected to open during the first few months of 2020 and the government hopes it improves economic development and security in the country’s troubled South region.
Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith was on hand at the ceremony which officially kicks off the construction of the project. He also inspected the progress of the development that is being built on a 920-rai plot of land. Betong airport will the 29th regional airport under the supervision of the Airports Department with the building timeline running from 2016 to 2019.
“The project is progressing as planned. The construction of a runway, a taxiway, local roads, a power supply system, a passenger terminal and other buildings already started The construction is expected to finish in July 2019 and the new airport would start services in time for the 2020 New Year holidays,” says Arkhom to The Bangkok Post.
The new airport is going to help facilitate transport to Yala as well as improve transport to Malaysia through the bordering district of Betong. Once it begins operating, it should impact the economic development and security in the southern border provinces which have been unstable.
The new airport will also increase tourism to the region. Estimates show that the number of visitors to the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala could increase by as much as 4,000,000 people per year allowing the region to generate an estimated THB4 billion in extra income.
Betong airport is expected to serve about 4,000 flights per year with 80-seat planes flying to and from the facility. The runway, which is 32% complete, will be extended later so the airport can serve larger aircraft. The terminal will be able to handle 300 outbound passengers an hour and 500,000 annually.