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Friday, July 6, 2007

AoT to take legal action against King Power

Group 'fails to meet all safety requirements'

Airports of Thailand (AoT) board will take legal action against King Power Duty Free and King Power Suvarnabhumi Co for failing to relocate shops which block fire exits at Suvarnabhumi airport. AoT board member and spokesman Chirmsak Pinthong said after the board meeting chaired by Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr yesterday that the board has asked AoT to take legal action against King Power group in order to remove those King Power outlets as soon as possible.

The board had told King Power group twice to remove outlets blocking fire exits, he said. The 30-day deadline had now passed. The group had relocated some outlets but failed to meet all AoT safety requirements, despite a warning letter issued by the agency.

Mr Chirmsak said the AoT could not compromise its safety requirements, nor allow the group to defer relocating outlets any longer.

''What if a fire breaks out and people are hurt or killed. Who would take responsibility?'' Mr Chirmsak said, adding that AoT would be liable. The AoT board was unhappy with progress made on relocation, he said.

More importantly, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had made clear its concerns about the airport's safety.

IATA recently handed its safety study of Suvarnabhumi to AoT. The study says Suvarnabhumi's standards are inferior to those of Don Mueang airport.

It is the board's policy that any unsafe areas must be made safe as soon as possible, Mr Chirmsak said.

The legal action which AoT will take is not related to the lawsuit which King Power group has filed against the AoT board to oppose revocation of its contract, he added. The board has also asked the Engineering Institute of Thailand to assess the airport's safety conditions in case of fire.

AoT will advance the consultation fee to the Engineering Institute and seek reimbursement from King Power group later, said Mr Chirmsak.

A consultation fee of 5.58 million baht would be paid, said Suvarnabhumi director Serirat Prasutanont.

On the lawsuit against King Power, Mr Serirat said he will talk to AoT's legal department on the procedures which AoT will take to initiate the lawsuit.

Mr Serirat said the airport has told King Power to relocate its outlets from 20 spots. Only 10 spots met the required standard, the other 10 did not.

Acting AoT managing director Kalaya Pakakong said the board yesterday approved a new AoT structure which will take effect in October. All AoT airports will now have a commercial department to manage airport revenue, she said.

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