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Friday, June 15, 2007

Airport to make final scanner payment

The American seller threatened to suspend services at Suvarnabhumi airport and inform US airlines and security agencies unless the takeover certificate ordering payment was issued.

Airports of Thailand (AoT) has agreed to facilitate the final payment to bomb scanner supplier GE InVision after receiving a warning letter from the US embassy with the threat.

Acting AoT president Kulya Pakakrong said the board decided on Thursday to issue the takeover certificate (TOC) to GE InVision right away, without waiting for the investigation by the Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) into reports the purchase of the luggage scanners was tainted by bribery and price inflation.

The ASC has not replied to the AoT inquiry about the progress in the investigation, she said.

The procurement committee of AoT proposed that the ASC investigation and the TOC issue should not be linked.

GE InVision earlier sought the TOC, which it will present to get the final payment for the scanners from ITO Joint Venture, AoT's contractor of the whole Suvarnabhumi airport project.

The last instalment totals US$5.2 million consisting of US$1.7 million for scanners and US$3.5 million in service fees.

An AoT source said the ASC is looking into why AoT has not saved on the deal by purchasing the 26 computed tomography X-ray (CTX) machines directly from GE InVision, the manufacturer, instead of doing it through a broker, Patriot Business Consultants Co. The ASC believes AoT could have saved about 300 million baht by direct ordering. The full purchase cost was US$35.8 million.

With the issuing of the takeover certificate, GE InVision will deliver spare parts for the CTX machines at Suvarnabhumi airport. Many of the 26 scanners are not working. Problems arose previously because the floor where they are installed was not air-conditioned. The machines must be kept cool.

Now the place is air-conditioned, but water leaks from the air-conditioning system, which also affects the scanners.

The AoT source said the US embassy had written to AoT chairman Saprang Kalayanamitr on May 25 advising that the delay in issuing the TOC could cause GE InVision to cancel its services at Suvarnabhumi airport and inform US airlines and security agencies of the cancellation.

AoT had two weeks to meet the TOC demand.

Suvarnabhumi airport director Serirat Prasutanond confirmed yesterday that GE InVision had not suspended services at the airport

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