Khon Kaen is one of the six airports chosen for the development plan as they have seen a particularly big rise in passengers over recent years. (Photo by Jakkraphan Nathanri)

Six major airports have been selected for a project to develop so-called “smart airports” in the next five years starting next year, the Department of Airports has revealed.

Department director-general Darun Saengchai said that the 2018-2022 Digital Master Plan is designed to transform certain airports into “smart” venues in order to adapt to the fast-changing aviation market and the growing number of air passengers.

Under this master plan, new technology will be deployed to resolve major issues plaguing airports like overcrowding. The plan also aims to improve airport security and promote the use of airports for purposes beyond air travel to generate more income, said Mr Darun.

The six airports chosen for the development plan are Krabi, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Surat Thani, Ubon Ratchathani and Nakhon Si Thammarat. These airports have seen a particularly big rise in passengers over recent years.

The department plans to spend 13 billion baht to power the plan in its early phase, Mr Darun said.

A total of 8.8 billion baht will go to funding the installation of a new luggage-handling system known as the “in-line screen” type as well as an explosives detection system.

The remaining 4.2 billion baht will be spent on working to ease overcrowding problems.

Pornthep Ruethaicharoenlap, manager of the smart airport master plan, said the overcrowding issue will be tackled using an automatic passport inspection system called Automated Immigration Gate and an automatic boarding pass scanning system called Automated Boarding Gate.

Other new technology will include Airport Guide Robots that will provide assistance to passengers as well as Automated Cleaning Robots to keep the airports’ facilities clean.

Regarding security, Mr Darun said that improved luggage checks and identity checks will be adopted — the latter will entail finger and retinal scanning technologies.

New security cameras able to detect suspicious items left unattended for over 15 minutes and automatically alert airport authorities are also part of the revamped security measures.

News Reporter

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