The new passenger terminal at the congested Phuket airport is not expected to be completed until September this year, about three months behind schedule.
The Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) needs more time to ensure complicated information technology and baggage systems at the new terminal are up to scratch.
While building has been completed, there are nine IT systems and carousel equipment under vigorous testing until mid-July.
By mid-August, the new terminal should be ready for occupation, with full-scale commercial operation starting in September, Monrudee Gettuphan, Phuket airport general manager, told the Bangkok Post.
She said AoT should be able to confirm the opening date of the four-storey international terminal, the signature part of its 5.14-billion-baht expansion of the country’s third-busiest airport, by June 30.
“There may be some delays, but it’s better to ensure everything is really ready rather than face some hiccups,” said Ms Monrudee, adding it was also the consensus from airlines and airport users.
But she insisted opening the new terminal cannot be delayed past September because tourists will begin to flock to the popular southern island resort as the high season for travel begins.
The arrivals section of the new terminal underwent a technical trial on Feb 14 this year, handling Thai Airways International flight TG 609 from Hong Kong.
The new terminal, costing 2.45 billion baht to build, has been a long time coming. The airport has faced critical congestion from a capacity shortfall and a surge in passenger traffic.
The structure should relieve overcrowding at the airport, which has handled twice as many passengers as the 6.5 million a year for which it was designed.
Airports Council International reported that Phuket airport was among those in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East that showed the biggest gains in passenger traffic in the first quarter this year. Phuket passenger throughput rose 18.7% to 4.26 million.
The new terminal, distinguished by its blue roof, has floor space of 72,338 square metres and can process 5 million passengers a year. Full expansion of the Phuket airport is on hold as the old terminal awaits renovation.