The Thai Government will initiate the construction works on the THB290bn ($8.8bn) Eastern Aviation City, Reuters reported.

The project will see the transformation of the Vietnam-war era U-Tapao Airport into an international airport.

Located in Rayong, the airport will be linked with a budget terminal and Don Muang airport, as well as Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The project will be spread over 1,040ha and feature an airport terminal. It will also have the space to accommodate a free trade zone for cargo, an aviation training centre, and aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facilities, according to the news agency.

Thai Government spokeswoman Tipanan Sirichana said that in the first five years, the project will provide employment for another 15,600 people and drive growth in the country’s aviation industry.

It is a public-private project and is expected to attract more tourists to the region.

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It is estimated that U-Tapao International Airport will be designed and developed to handle 60 million to 75 million passengers annually.

Global design and consultancy firm One Work’s has been appointed to create the master plan for ‘Eastern Aviation City’, according to Simple Flying.

The airport will also feature a Smart Eco Hub Retail area and Culture Village to offer entertainment for all visitors.

Last December, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Thai Airways International Public Company (Thai) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to offer better benefits to their passengers.

According to the MoU, the two companies agreed to initially codeshare their flight services between Singapore and Bangkok.