Second airports approved for Chiang Mai, Phuket
The Airports of Thailand have approved the construction of two new airports in Phuket and Chiang Mai. The new second airport serving Chiang Mai will be located in nearby Lamphun province while the second one serving Phuket will be located in Phang Nga province, each about 30 kilometers from the main airport. The budget for each airport is set at 60 billion baht and construction is expected to begin in 2019 and completed by 2025. Each facility will be able to accommodate around 10 million passengers. Chiang Mai International Airport, which does not operate around the clock due to its location near the city center, already serves 10 million passengers a year while the Phuket airport serves 16.9 million. Chiang Mai International Airport has already had expansion plans approved to increase capacity and while Phuket International Airport recently underwent renovation and expansion to handle 12.5 million passengers, it is still over capacity.
Construction of the Red Line from Rangsit to Bang Sue is expected to be completed by 2020 – the 26 km stretch has been under construction since 2013 and has faced delays due to political disruption and funding issues but is currently on 3 months behind schedule. The initial stretch from Taling Chan to Bang Sue has been completed since 2012 but cannot be opened until the main Bang Sue – Rangsit line is functional. The line is scheduled for opening in October 2020 and when the entire line is completed will stretch from Bang Sue to Salaya in Nakhon Pathom.
The National Economic and Social Development Board has revised its growth estimates for Thailand’s economy upwards to 4.5 percent from its previous prediction of 4.1 percent. The revised estimate was in large part due to a 4.8 percent growth rate in the first quarter, a twenty quarter high, brought about by a 3.6 percent boost in private sector consumption as results of the government's assistance plan for low income citizens. Low inflation and interest rates, together with continued private sector investment from last year's 4th quarter were also contributing factors. The country’s exports grew 9.9 percent in the first quarter near $US 61.9 billon in value. Exports grew for the 14th straight month in April, led by stronger shipments of cars and parts, computers and accessories, plastic pellets, finished oil, rice, tapioca products, frozen and processed chicken, and fresh, canned and processed fruits and vegetables. Exports of agricultural and agro-industrial products grew by 9.8% year-on-year in April to $US3.39 billion after shrinking 3.3% in March. The Commerce Ministry is maintaining a predicted 8 percent growth in exports for the year.