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New terminal to ease Bangkok congestion

dpa logodpa 10/08/2016 Cod Satrusayang

A new terminal at a Vietnam War-era airport has opened near Bangkok to take the strain off the Thai capital's current two airports, which are overloaded.

Thailand has launched a new terminal at a Vietnam War-era airport in an effort to ease congestion at Bangkok's two main airports.

This week's launch was a "soft opening", according to Airports of Thailand, with only one flight going through the new terminal.

Full-scale operations will start in early 2017.

U-Tapao International Airport, 173km east of Bangkok, will be able to handle three million passengers per year from the current capacity of 800,000, according to AOT.

The new terminal aims to ease congestion at Bangkok's Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports, which an internal audit found to be operating beyond their intended capacity, AOT said.

Don Muang handled 21.5 million passengers in 2014, far exceeding its recommended capacity of 16.5 million.

Suvarnabhumi, which has a recommended capacity of 45 million passengers, served 46.4 million passengers in 2014.

The resort town of Pattaya is 40km away and is popular with tourists from those two nations.

U-Tapao airport was extended and modernised for the US Air Force during the Vietnam War.

B-52 bombers based at U-Tapao joined major campaigns including the illegal bombing of Cambodia and Laos.

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