Phuket International Airport in Thailand has received 5.79bn baht ($169m) in expansion funding from the board of Airports of Thailand (AOT) to meet the expected rise in air traffic demand over the next decade.

The airport expansion includes a new terminal for international passengers, improving the existing terminal, upgrading the jet fuelling system and building new taxiways by the end of 2009.

The expansion project will enable the airport to double its passenger handling capacity to 12.5 million a year in 2013 which is subjected to routine scrutiny from the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

According to the AoT report, 5.73 million passengers passed through Phuket Airport in 2008 despite the economic downturn and political turmoil, reducing passenger numbers by 13.8% to 2.09 million with flights shrinking 17.1% year-on-year to 12,939 during the first four months of 2008.

Apart from expanding the main terminal, the new terminal will be built separately under a build-transfer-operate contract in which private companies would invest and run the facility but AoT would own it.