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"New Bangkok airport faces partial shutdown"


 
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bangkok airport to be shut for repairs 
Deutsche Presse-Agentur


BANGKOK - THE Thai government is mulling a partial closure of Bangkok's
brand new US$3.9 billion Suvarnabhumi Airport for repairs a mere three
months after its "soft" launch, news reports said yesterday. Deputy
Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um said a recently compiled report on the
facility had recommended a partial closure of Suvarnabhumi and the reopening
of Don Muang, the now unused airport that serviced the capital for 92 years,
said the Bangkok Post.

Suvarnabhumi Airport, a multi-billion dollar project that was pushed through
by the previous government of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was
opened on September 28, days after the military ousted Thaksin in a
bloodless coup on September 19.

Despite reservations about the airport's readiness within the aviation
industry, the Airports Authority of Thailand (AOT), the state enterprise
responsible for Suvarnabhumi's construction and management, insisted that
the facility was ready for take off on September 28, the deadline set by
Thaksin.

But a new post-coup AOT board of directors has discovered a host of problems
with Suvarnabhumi and recommended a partial closure to fix them.

Among other things the AOT report said the airport's information technology
facilities were incomplete, the car park building had no drains causing rain
water to flow into elevator shafts and there were cracks in the airport's
taxiways, said the Bangkok Post.

A committee set up by the National Legislative Assembly, Thailand's
legislative body set up by the ruling junta, has discovered "irregularities
in almost all the airport's contracts," said legislator Admiral Bannawit
Kengrian.

Contracts where corruption was proven would be scrapped, said Bannawit.

Although Suvarnabhumi Airport was opened on September 28, an "official"
launch of the facility awaits the presence of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej,
who gave the airport the name Suvarnabhumi, or "Golden Land," after Marco
Polo's description of South-East Asia in his famous travels.

The new airport, a blend of modern steel and glass framework with
traditional Thai interior, was designed by German architect Helmut Jahn, who
also designed the United terminal at Chicago's airport and the expansion of
Munich airport in Germany.

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