Suvarnabhumi Airport is located in the Bang Phli district of Samut Prakarn province, Thailand. Credit: i viewfinder/
The first phase of the Suvarnabhumi was opened in 2006. Credit: Roger Price/Wikimedia Commons.
The airport is undergoing expansion to increase its annual passenger handling capacity. Credit: Aero Icarus/Wikimedia Commons.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport, also known as Bangkok International Airport, is one of the largest and busiest airports in Southeast Asia. Located in the Samut Prakan Province of Thailand, the airport was developed to relieve the pressure on the Don Mueang International Airport.

The name Suvarnabhumi (pronounced su-wan-na-poom) was chosen by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and means ‘the golden land’, specifically referring to continental Indochina.

The first phase of the airport opened in 2006. The airport is operated by Airports of Thailand and has an annual passenger handling capacity of 45 million.

Phase two development involving the development of a new satellite building (SAT-1) is expected to be completed in September 2023.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport development phases

SAT-1 being developed under phase two airport development will increase the annual passenger handling capacity of the airport to 60 million.

Phase three expansion of the airport includes the North Expansion project and the development of a third runway to increase annual passenger capacity to 90 million. The new runway is being developed with an estimated investment of TBH28.05bn ($819m) and is expected to open in 2023.

Phases four and five of the airport development will include another satellite terminal (SAT-2), a south passenger terminal building and a fourth runway, which will increase the annual passenger handling capacity of the airport to 150 million by 2030.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport development background

The airport was due to open in late 2005 but a series of budget overruns, construction flaws, political interference and allegations of corruption caused problems for the project.

Finally, after much speculation, then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced that the airport would be open by September 2006 at the latest.

Symbolic first test flights involving two Thai Airways aircraft were held on 29 September 2005, which was a previously announced deadline for opening.

At one point, in September 2004, Thaksin Shinawatra and several of his cabinet ministers even spent the night in tents at the construction site in a move aimed at embarrassing construction crews into speeding up their work.

The New Bangkok International Airport (NBIA) company was formed in 1996 but due to political and economic chaos, it took six years for construction to start.

In 2005, the construction supervision and management were transferred to the Airports of Thailand, while the NBIA company was dissolved.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport location

Located in Racha Thewa in the Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan Province, Thailand, the airport is developed over an area of 8,000 acres. It serves as a major transportation hub for the region and plays a crucial role in facilitating international travel and trade.

Road access to the new airport is provided through a series of new highways connected to Bangkok’s existing outer ring road.

The airport express, informally known as the Pink Line, offers airport-bound passengers a fast 15-minute limited-stop journey from the city.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport details

The main passenger terminal complex covers a gross floor area of 563,000m² and serves as the central hub for passenger processing and services. It houses check-in counters, security checkpoints, immigration and customs facilities, baggage claim areas, as well as retail and dining outlets.

The main terminal includes seven four-storey concourse buildings A, B, C, D, E, F and G, constructed to facilitate the boarding and disembarkation of passengers. These concourses are connected to the main terminal building via walkways or automated people movers, typically featuring multiple gates, waiting areas, airline lounges and additional amenities. Concourse A serves the domestic passengers and the others serve the international ones.

The airport features a prominent 132m air traffic control tower that oversees and coordinates the movement of aircraft within the airport’s airspace, for safe and smooth air traffic operations.

Runway details

Suvarnabhumi Airport’s first phase included the construction of two parallel runways, each 60m wide, one 3,700m long and the other 4,000m long with a runway separation distance of 2,200m, capable of handling large commercial aircraft, such as the Airbus A380.

These runways are equipped with advanced navigation systems and lighting to ensure safe and efficient operations.

Third runway project details

The third runway will be 4,000m long and 60m wide. It will be located to the west of the airport, parallel to the existing runway and serve as a landing runway while the existing runway will be reserved for take-offs.

A parallel taxiway will also be constructed alongside the third runway and connected via rapid exit taxiways. In addition, seven rapid exit taxiways will be built to allow planes landing on the third runway to move directly to the parallel taxiway without waiting.

A perimeter taxiway will be constructed southward of the parallel taxiway, connecting taxiway F with taxiway D, to enable planes to taxi and access the apron conveniently without crossing the existing west runway. The existing taxiway D will be extended to provide a direct route for planes to exit the runway and head to the apron.

The project also includes the development of a rescue and fire-fighting facility, an airfield lighting system in compliance with current standards and ground improvement works for SAT-1.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport infrastructure details

To support the growing demand for air cargo services, a dedicated 190,000m² cargo terminal was constructed.

Adequate parking facilities were developed to cater to the needs of passengers and visitors, including multi-level parking structures and open parking areas, providing ample space for private vehicles, taxis and other modes of transportation.

The utility systems and services at the airport include a power supply, 40,000m³ water tank, water and wastewater management, fire protection systems, telecommunications infrastructure and other essential utilities.

Contractors involved at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport

The Suvarnabhumi Airport’s passenger terminal complex was designed by the MJTA group of consultants, comprising Murphy Jahn Architecture and TAMS consultant (USA) and ACT Engineering consultant (Thailand).

The contract for the construction of the Suvarnabhumi Airport’s passenger terminal complex was awarded to Italian-Thai Development.

Aurecon, a design, engineering and advisory company, provided the concept design for the glass wall and support system facade of the airport.

Werner Sobek, an engineering and design company, planned the supporting structure and facade of the terminal building.

The other companies involved include Fosroc Thailand, Obayashi, Takenaka, CM Kamchang and Freyssinet International.

The immigration information technology system was installed and implemented by CDG Systems and Merlin’s Solution International. The baggage in-line screening system was installed by Quatrotec.

Ericsson has completed the project of designing and integrating a multi-operator In-Building Solution at the airport.

Sensis Corporation and Aeronautical Radio of Thailand have deployed Multistatic Dependent Surveillance at the airport.

The hold baggage in-line screening system was completed by the TCS consortium comprising Dorsch Consult Ingenieurgesellschaff, Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick (Thailand), JAL Aviation Consulting, Japan Transport Engineering, Southeast Asia Technology, TEAM Consulting Engineering and Management, Project Planning Services and Santhaya Associated.

Third runway construction is being undertaken by the TN Consortium, comprising construction companies Thanomwongse Service and Nawarat Patanakarn.

AEC Consortium is responsible for providing construction supervision services for the third runway.

Consulting companies Asian Engineering Consultants and IEC International Engineering Consultants carried out the survey and design work for the third runway.

CeTeau, a manufacturer of prefabricated vertical wick drains, was contracted to perform ground improvement works for the new runway.

Suppliers involved in the project include Dextra, a steel and fibre-reinforced polymer construction products supplier, Amorim Cork Composites, a composites supplier and Permasteelisa, a supplier of architectural envelopes and interior systems.