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Suvarnabhumi Airport : Flight Status

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Airport security still below par

Six months after receiving low grades from international experts, Airports of Thailand (AoT) still can't make up its mind on how it should improve Suvarnabhumi airport's security.

AoT still says it is open to all possible options, and has taken no action to upgrade the problem.

A highly-placed source at the AoT said the AoT board will meet yet again next Thursday and evaluate the performance of the Loxley-ICTS consortium, its contractor responsible for the security of Suvarnabhumi airport.

Last Jan 6, AoT claimed it had "addressed" security problems, threatening the Loxley-ICTS team that it might terminate its contract. At that time, there were strong fears over airport security because of the New Year's bombing in Bangkok.

Up to now, the consortium has failed to meet its contractual obligations. AoT has already given the consortium a chance to make improvements and the consortium's performance will be evaluated for the second time tomorrow.

Previously, the consortium scored well in the searches category but not in the overall surveillance of the airport.

The substandard service prompted the AoT board to consider shortening the consortium's 10-year contract or separating its search and surveillance contracts to keep only the search deal alive.

However, the board also reserves its right to terminate the contract and find a new contractor or handle the airport's security matters by itself through a subsidiary.

Executives of the consortium have informally negotiated with the representatives of the AoT board. The contractor prefers a change to its contract, not termination.

To deal with possible terror attacks, it would be better for the AoT to follow the suggestion of the International Air Transport Association that it handle the airport's security by itself.

If that is the case, the AoT will have to deploy a unit of temporary security personnel first, before a permanent unit is established for the task.

Chaturongkapol Sodmanee, deputy director of Suvarnabhumi airport, said yesterday that the Loxley-ICTS consortium had made some improvements to its security services which enable it to score 6-7 points on a scale of 10.

Although the contractor has tried to improve its services, AoT can't afford to show any leniency, he said.

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