Suvarnabhumi Airport Map

Suvarnabhumi Airport : Flight Status

Friday, September 28, 2007

Suvarnabhumi still plagued by problems

A year after it opened, just half of repairs done

One year after its opening for commercial flights, Suvarnabhumi international airport is still plagued by a host of problems with only half of them having been fixed. When it was unveiled on Sept 28 last year, the airport in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district was portrayed by Airports of Thailand (Aot) as a new, important landmark that Thais would be proud of. Instead, the airport is being remembered for all its flaws and scandals which can be traced back to the previous Thaksin Shinawatra government.

The airport has faced a host of problems ranging from cracks in its runways to jammed halls and leaking roofs. And all the blame has been heaped on AoT.

The agency has just released its annual report on the first year of Suvarnabhumi's operations. Almost the entire report is devoted to telling the public what problems have already been fixed and what will be done to improve Suvarnabhumi and eventually make it a key regional airport to rival those in Singapore and Hong Kong. AoT also pledges to make Suvarnabhumi one of the world's top ten airports in the next two years.

The AoT report only gives a sketchy picture of the flaws found at the airport so far. However, another report compiled by a panel set up to monitor the progress and problems at Suvarnabhumi provides more details that paint a worrying picture of the airport.

The panel, led by Civil Aviation Department director-general Chaisak Angkhasuwan, has found 61 problems at the airport and to date only 30 of them have been fixed.

The 61 problems were identified in the 104-page report which also offers solutions for them, according to Yodyiam Teptaranon, a member of the panel and the AoT board.

The report puts the problems into three categories: those involving the terminal, including structural flaws; those concerning information technology and operations, and service problems.

To deal with problems in the first category, AoT has so far provided more chairs and trolleys for use inside the terminal, improved signs, built another 204 restrooms to add to the original 1,464 and provided more space for passengers in the arrival hall.

But the report also shows concern over the lack of progress in the work to remove the electrical circuit control board from the upper floor of the passenger terminal for safety reasons.

There are now 1,050 security surveillance cameras inside the airport's passenger terminal, according to AoT. However, the report says more close-circuit cameras are needed for better security. The airport also needs more security equipment and personnel with a better management to deal with emergencies.

Also, the report says Suvarnabhumi's information technology system should be upgraded to have, among other things, a centralised IT security policy, a bomb bunker, and a dedicated telephone line to alert authorities in case of emergency.

It also suggests that airport restaurants improve their service, more telephones and internet outlets be provided for airport users, and better handling of passengers' luggage.

Suvarnabhumi airport director Serirat Prasutanond said AoT was aware of all the problems and was working hard to solve them.

The Council for National Security, which staged a coup that toppled the Thaksin government just 10 days before the opening of Suvarnabhumi, has made Gen Saprang Kalaynamitr chairman of the AoT board to deal with the problems faced by the airport.

Gen Saprang's main task is to tackle all irregularities including certain commercial contracts that are believed to benefit some politicians and officials.

However, a source in the AoT board said there has been very little progress. The problem lies in the fact the board had to deal with so many problems ranging from runway cracks to a shortage of restrooms that it could not focus on big issues. the source said.

The story is part of a series on the first anniversary of Suvarnabhumi airport

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A tale of two women and one airport

The struggle for fair treatment by those living near Suvarnabhumi goes on

Had it not been for a twist of fate, their paths might never have crossed. But over the last year, Somjai Panyanasonthi and Ratchanee Kaewprasert have discovered they share a common plight: The thundering noise of aeroplanes that fly overhead every couple of minutes.

Despite having lived only about a kilometre apart for several years, the two women had been leading separate lives. But over the past turbulent year, they finally met. Until then, each had been struggling on her own, devising different tactics to cope with the trauma of the noise and other types of pollution, and from the indifference of the state authorities they have sought help from.

Fifty-seven-year-old Somjai said she has been relying on painkillers every night: "My daughter-in-law has bought me the drug in cartons, which we finish very quickly; we take them as if they are sweets."

The two dream bhouses — until the airport arrived. On the left is Somjai Panyanasonthi's house; on the right is Ratchanee Kaewprasert's. Photos courtesy of KARIN KLINKAJORN and 'GREEN WORLD' MAGAZINE

Initially Ratchanee used ear plugs to enable her to sleep (Somjai, however never received a single pair from local officials). But when the aircraft noise became unbearable, especially during take-offs, the 44-year-old had to flee. For several months, she lived in a cramped rented house with her husband and their only daughter. "For about 15 or16 tenants, there was only one toilet and bathroom. The toilet did not flush well, and it was located away from the house. I was very concerned about my teenage daughter; my husband had to stand guard in front of the door whenever she went to take a shower."

Life on the outskirts of Bangkok, before the arrival of Suvarnabhumi International Airport, was idyllic. Ratchanee has been living here since 1996, and was born and raised inside the airport perimeter. Her attachment to the land _ the numerous trees she and her father planted and watered, the slow, quiet pace of life _ is discernible in her voice. "I had always thought I was lucky to be able to continue living here. Our relatives who moved out to live elsewhere still come back to take part in the traditional ceremonies at the local temple every year," Ratchanee said.

Somjai Panyanasonthi: "Nowadays I have to take painkillers every night; they are finished so quickly, as if they were sweets."

Ratchanee Kaewprasert recalls her pre-airport years growing up in the outskirts of Bangkok: "I had always thought I was lucky to be able to continue living here."

For Somjai, who has lived in the capital all her life, the single storey house she has been living in since 2003 was meant to be her "last home, a sanctuary for the last phase of my life". There was an obvious pride as she told how she had spent time and energy seeking "each plank of wood" that went to build the house; how her husband, a former national table-tennis player and self-taught carpenter, built the floor-to-ceiling cabinets, how she listened to the kawao birds chirping every morning. "My husband's cousin owns the land. When we first moved here, there was no road. Weeds grew everywhere. But in the mornings, I would be listening to the kawao that nested in the tree _ its sound was so pretty."

For both Somjai and Ratchanee, their idyll did not last.

First was the chaos that came with construction. Somjai said the noise frightened her favourite kawao away and they never returned. Curiously, the middle-aged lady said she first learned about the airport project when workers came to dismantle the pylons in her back garden. "But I still thought the planes would not fly this low; I even wondered why they would need to take them [the pylons] down."

Ratchanee recalled the series of nuisances local residents had to endure during the construction phase of the airport. There were days and nights of extensive burning of weed grass. The dumping of huge amounts of sand caused occasional "sandstorms", not unlike those in deserts, she said. Next was a loud, continuous clanging and pounding, which started at 6am and lasted until 9pm.

"We were certainly annoyed, but we took it to be only temporary."

Little did Ratchanee realise a bigger ordeal was awaiting them.

The wake-up call came two days before the grand opening of the airport. Trucks and cargo planes, carrying equipment from Don Mueang to Suvarnabhumi, passed by constantly, day and night. Still, Ratchanee tried to rationalise to herself and her mother, making an observation at the time: "Maybe our house was just on the path between the two airports. There is no way they [the aeroplanes] would be taking this route every day."

But they do.

While the original blueprint of Suvarnabhumi airport designated four runways (two of which are yet to be built), the subsequent protests prompted a significant change of plan. Objections from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Lat Krabang (KMITL) and another big condominium project persuaded the executives of Airports of Thailand (AoT) to redistribute the take-off and landing patterns between the eastern and western runways. Ratchanee's and Somjai's houses, situated to the north of the western runway (see picture), seem to be among the worst affected. Between last October and May, 260,918 flights were reported to have used the new airport. For 2007 alone, the total figure is expected to reach 387,000 flights. A rough calculation shows this means roughly 44 or 45 flights every hour. To avoid the KMITL campus, the western runway has been used for the majority of flights (over 90 per cent on some days). In other words, Somjai's and Ratchanee's houses have been witnessing aircraft traffic at the rate of every two or three minutes.

At ground level, it simply means a living hell _ a cacophony of noise, with very few silent breaks.

Somjai said the first few days were all right _ there was that deafening noise, but there was also some excitement. Except for the fact that her father-in-law would be shocked, lose his grip on his walker and fall to the concrete floor every time an aeroplane flew over, life was not yet that traumatic. After all, the 89-year-old patriarch, despite his advanced age and restricted mobility, had until then enjoyed robust health. Every day, Somjai said she and her husband "would be sitting under a guava tree, chatting and guessing which airline the passing plane belonged to".

But as days turned into weeks, the initial novelty became bitter reality. In particular, Somjai's father-in-law's situation worsened. After repeated falls, he started bleeding badly. They rushed him to a private hospital. When he returned home he was unable to sleep. One night, the old man crawled all the way from his bedroom to the flooded front lawn. They found him the following morning, soaking wet and with algae covering his head, muttering repeatedly, "I'm scared; I can't live here." He died a few days later, on November 20, less than two months after the airport opened.

Ratchanee's response to the aircraft noise was grim from day one. Before she started wearing ear plugs, she barely had a wink of sleep. Gone was her bright, cheerful smile (a year later, she still rarely smiles). The nature of her work, giving rides to school for kindergarten and primary school children, added to the agony. The young ones kept shouting "Aeroplane!" every time they saw one passing by. The omnipresent green signposts with the profile of an aeroplane and the word "Suvarnabhumi" at the top caused her to shudder.

Back then, though, both still harboured hopes. Somjai said a few airport staff had visited her house twice, the second time with "almost 10 assistants who took notes of all my household items". Some in the group, she remembered, confided to her they agreed right away that "your house is certainly loud; probably more than a 100dB".

"I waited for their promised return. They never came back. A week after my father-in-law passed away, I called them, but they said I will never receive compensation because my house was built after 2001."

Ratchanee also confronted a slightly different numbers game. She contacted AoT's public relations office. They asked her to organise an impromptu meeting between them and local residents. She complied, going from door to door, informing her neighbours of the need to attend this important forum. There, she was asked to serve as a leader of her community (a position she has held ever since). They conducted a brief sound test, and told her: "Your house will never be bought; it's has a NEF [Noise Exposure Forecast] of under 40."

For both Ratchanee and Somjai, the two separate decisions by AoT officials stunned them.

Somjai said her husband was the one who contacted the local district office to submit the house's plans; he was never told about the airport project, nor that the construction of his house was thus forbidden. "They [AoT] told me the only thing we can do is to file a charge against the district office for having given us building permission in the first place," Somjai said.

For some reason, the year 2001 has been repeatedly used as a reference point when it comes to compensation.

On September 12, on the live TV programme Ta Sawang (Sleepless in Bangkok), Surathat Suthammanas, AoT's senior executive vice-president, planning and finance, in charge of allocating compensation, explained that 2001 was "the first year when there was an environmental impact assessment [EIA] study" undertaken for the Suvarnabhumi airport project.

In fact, the first EIA report had to undergo a major revision _ following its release, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra later ordered that the target number of passengers be increased from 30 to 45 million a year, thus the need to adjust the airport's original design. The National Environment Board (NEB) reviewed and approved the final EIA report in 2005. (Interestingly, the introduction of the new EIA report stated that the first EIA study began in 1996 and was approved by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (in 2001) and the NEB (in 2002)).

Meanwhile, Ratchanee has learned the hard way the significance of, and the confusion over the term "NEF", or Sen Siang in Thai. It haunts her, making her feel powerless to dispute its usage (and abuse) by those in the corridors of power. Her life has been turned upside down since the airport began operating; but the NEF seems to make things worse.


Developed by the US Federal Aviation Agency, and using a complex formula, a noise exposure forecast relies on data fed into a computer program _ including effective perceived noise levels for various types of aircraft, frequency of flights and all aspects of flight operation (weighting night occurrences more heavily than daytime ones) _ to help predict the sound footprint and effect on local communities of aircraft noise and airports.

Weather conditions and background noise levels are not considered, and in the US and other countries, increased public awareness, and subsequent decrease in tolerance of aircraft and other environmental noise, demands continual reassessment of methods such as the NEF.

As stated in the EIA report, a NEF of 40 or more means the area will be highly affected, and the local population may start to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. Settlements with the residents _ AoT must buy or arrange for strengthening of their houses _ "five months before the airport's opening" is stipulated. For the area designated as falling in the NEF 35 to 40 range, the effect will be lower but any activity sensitive to noise, such as hospitals, schools and temples, is discouraged. When relocation is not possible, improvement of the buildings must be undertaken.

Finally, the area with the NEF 30 to 35 range may receive compensation for improvement of buildings. In the two latter cases, regular testing of noise levels must be undertaken by the relevant airport authority.

As with the constant references to the year 2001, the NEF figures are dubious. Depending on who draws up the NEFs contour map (and for whom), the size and coverage of each NEF range can vary greatly. For example, the NEF 30 area could be as small as just a few kilometres from the airport, or it could reach into the Gulf of Thailand. For almost a year since the airport became operational, the EIA's recommendation to buy the houses of those living in the NEF range of 40 has yet to be acted upon. There is no need to talk about those in other NEF ranges, let alone other stipulations, such as the continued noise level measurements.

In the middle of this gloom, there was a brief interlude. The Cabinet's resolution of November 21 last year proposed that those living in the NEF 30 or above area are entitled to choose between selling or having their houses improved, with the AoT footing the bill. The timeframe for entitlement to compensation has also been extended to cover every building completed up to 2006. Under such a scenario, people like Somjai and Ratchani will be given money to resettle somewhere quieter.

"I tell you frankly I have spent 1.5 million baht of my life savings to build this house. I don't have any money left. I only ask for the amount that I have actually spent, but now if they gave me, say, even only one million baht, I would be willing to move out as soon as I could," said Somjai.

Unfortunately, their renewed hopes were dashed. On May 29, Surayud Chulanont's Cabinet issued another resolution: Only those living in the NEF 40 area would be able to sell their properties. Others in the under 40 area can only seek compensation to have their houses repaired. AoT was told to conduct another survey to determine the number of houses and buildings built before and after 2001 and resubmit the potential amount of compensation to the Cabinet.

So everything went back to square one, and all Somjai and Ratchanee can do seems to be to battle on alone. Not quite. On September 9, the two women joined 2,000 other residents in a protest march to Suvarnabhumi airport. For a housewife like Somjai, it was the first political rally she and her husband had taken part in (Ratchanee had joined a previous one on May 12).

"I never liked walking, even when I go shopping. But on that day, I saw even very old men walking in the sun, and it inspired me to carry on."

But for Ratchanee, the longer she struggles for justice, the more depressed she has become. A year on, aeroplane noise continues to cause her literally physical pain.

Having thought that ear plugs were her saviour, on the very day the aeroplanes switched their take-off pattern (up until then, the northern end of the western runway had been used for landing), Ratchanee knew the protective aid was just a toy. After a day and a night of suffering continuous thundering noise, she developed a sudden inexplicable sickness.

At dawn the following morning, the very first thing she did was to run to her van, sitting there for a while in a foetal position, covering her head in a towel. Spotting her husband, she ran toward him immediately, unable to control her sobbing. Her body also shook as she asked him repeatedly: "Please take me away; I can no longer live here.". Their neighbours stared at the couple. Her father, usually a stoic man, was found later crying to himself. Perhaps, he was thinking he may have "lost" his youngest daughter forever.

That was the day Ratchanee and her husband went house-hunting. Almost a year later, she still keeps the tranquilisers a doctor had prescribed her that night. The packet shows the date: October 29. (Ratchanee has since moved back, partly due to the fact that the planes have switched back to the previous landing pattern). She said she hopes she will become strong enough to withstand the coming return of the planes taking-off in the coming weeks.

More hurtful for her though is hearing the words often thrown at residents near the airport, which range from accusations of being "greedy" and "unpatriotic" to questions like "Why can't they tolerate the noise like those at Don Mueang?"

Ironically, in the early days, it was Ratchanee who consoled her mother using exactly the same words. "I told my mother 'Even those at Don Mueang can continue their lives, so we must be able to, mustn't we?'

"Now I have learned an important lesson: Wherever the thing called progress has reached its claws, there will always be suffering of the people who live there."

And her voice trailed off as the planes above her house, on their way to Suvarnabhumi airport, continued to roar overhead.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thai Airways president vetoes plans to make Don Muang international

Thai Airways International has publicly opposed the idea that Bangkok's former Don Muang airport should be designated once more as an international airport to aid the traffic congestion at Suvarnabhumi international airport.

The president of Thai Airways, Apinan Sumanaserani, has stated that Suvarnabhumi airport only experiences heavy traffic during peak periods. He went on further to assert that the airport is capable of catering up to 60-70 million passengers a year. Apinan also commented that reinstating Don Muang as an international airport would not change the amount of passengers arriving at Suvarnabhumi and would in fact increase costs for airline due to the number of passengers having to board their flights at Don Muang.

His comments were made in response to claims that Suvarnabhumi airport welcomes a minimum of 45 million passengers per year, with the airport reaching full capacity.

Apinan has urged authorities to consider the opinions of passengers, airlines and airline associations before arriving to a final decision.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

THAI opposes Don Muang as international airport

Thai Airways International Public Co., Ltd. (THAI), the country's flag carrier, opposes the idea of reinstating Bangkok's former Don Muang airport --now serving airliners for domestic routes -- as another international airport to ease traffic congestion at Suvarnabhumi international airport.

THAI president Apinan Sumanaserani said Suvarnabhumi international airport -- which celebrates its first anniversary of commercial opening September 29 -- is busy during heavy traffic only. In fact, the airport could easily cater to some 60-70 million passengers annually without problems, he said.

His comments were made after many suggestions were offered that not less than 45 million passengers would use Suvarnabhumi yearly and that the airport was now reaching full capacity so there is a need to make Don Muang another international airport to ease traffic congestion there.

The number of passengers would remain unchanged even after redesignating Don Muang as an additional international airport while it would create heavier costs for the airlines because a number of passengers will have to board their fights at the former international airport, Mr. Apinan said.

He urged concerned authorities to listen to the opinions of passengers, airlines and airline associations before making a decision. (TNA)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

An earful of AoT advice

The three wind chimes don't work. Despite the "good" advice in the new manual produced by the Airports of Thailand (AoT), the set of chimes hanging at Somjai Panyanasonthi's house can only produce thin plaintive sounds that in no way block the thundering noise of aircraft flying over her roof every two minutes or so.

Thanks to the creativity of the Environment Section at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the Pride of Thais, a new guidebook has been published and distributed to the residents living nearby. The Thai title can be roughly translated as "How to live with the airport happily." The cover shows a group of smiling men and women, boys and girls, holding hands against the background illustration of the multi-billion-baht airport. Despite her house being situated right next to the runway, and in arguably the loudest zone of the flight corridor, Mrs Somjai says she has not received the manual. (The AoT has not given even a pair of ear plugs to the ageing lady; there is no need to talk about any other compensation.)

On reflection, that would have been a blessing in disguise. Somehow, Mrs Somjai has miraculously managed to bear with the noise and other types of pollution for almost a year (although her father-in-law died shortly after the airport went into operation). But she might get a sudden heart attack if she happened to lay her hands on this new AoT manual. The preface begins with a "heartfelt" greeting from AoT. Numerous mitigation measures, it says, have been implemented for the surrounding communities, the guidebook being just the latest effort. The running theme in all these goodwill gestures is to help the locals learn how to "live well and happily with our airport".

The following five chapters further reveal the brilliant mind of the author(s). The first stresses how we need to develop a new airport to compete with other world-class airports in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong. Suvarnabhumi Airport is "the airport of opportunities - for us to become the true aviation hub of Asia". (The book was published before the recent move to relocate some of the non-connecting international flights back to Don Mueang Airport on the grounds it would help "relieve the congestion" at Suvarnabhumi. Perhaps our hub is growing too quickly.)

The second chapter, headlined "Noises from airplanes", is a real gem. The two tables presented here try to "clarify" the different types of sound, giving rough estimates of the potential volume and how they might translate into the much-cited Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF). Interestingly, for the NEF 30 range, which some academics say is already a health hazard, the example given is "ordinary conversation". NEF 40 is compared to the noise emitted by "a vacuum cleaner" and for NEF 50, that produced by a "washing machine". No wonder the AoT does not think Mrs Somjai needs any ear plugs.

Talking about this protective hearing aid, another poster produced and distributed by the Ministry of Public Health could seriously rival the AoT's manual in terms of creativity. (Again, Mrs Somjai has been happily excluded.) The bold letters on the colourful poster state: "Loud noise can be prevented." There is a die-cut picture of a man with the accompanying caption explaining how to wear the ear plugs correctly. For the right ear, you have to raise your left arm to reach the top rim of the right ear, stretch it up, and squeeze the ear plug into the hole. Do the same with the left ear. There, you have it. Now you cannot even hear the Boeing right above your head, eh?

Back to the AoT's book. The remaining chapters go into technical detail about how to adjust your homes to block out the airplane noises. The thorough recommendations - from how to improve the windows and doors to the best type of air-conditioners to install in your bedroom - are proof of the utmost concern of our airport authority (although it tactfully skips over who should pay the increased electricity bills).

But the ultimate highlight is in the last two pages: "The quick and simple remedy to tackle noise problems, when the disturbance is not excessive, is to use other noises to divert one's attention from the airplane noises, such as [installing] walls of waterfalls, fountains, or put up bells or wind chimes. Or to perform various activities such as aerobic dance, computer games, karaoke singing and so on." But over the past year, Mrs Somjai has learned that the wind chimes certainly do not work. Perhaps she might try aerobics or karaoke music?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Pride of Thailand!!!

THAI Airways at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok - Thailand

Landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Landing at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport with NOK AIR

Detail : NOK AIR Flight DD8327 Chiang Mai - Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. The moving flight of NOK AIR from Donmuang to Suvarnabhumi prepared for operating in 27th September 2006. One day before the officially commenced full operation of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Detail : Taxiing to the gate one day after the opening of the new Bangkok airport, Suvarnabhumi.

Suvarnabhumi Airport Opening Video (2005)

Help Desk Phuket Case opened

Metropolitan Bangkok's Suvarnbhumi airport has opened a "Help Desk Phuket Case" counter to serve relatives of victims who died or were injured in Sunday's air crash at Phuket International Airport.

The service also assists the victim's relatives in travelling to Phuket and transporting the bodies.

Most dead passengers of the doomed aircraft were foreigners. The Suvarnabhumi airport information counter will help family members to travel faster, according to Narongchai Tanadchang-saeng, deputy director of the airport.

The service will facilitate air travel to Phuket and documentation for transporting the bodies of foreigners back to their home countries.

The counter is on the fourth floor (departure level) at Entrance Three of the passenger terminal building and operates from 5am to midnight.

Information services by telephone are available around the clock. The phone number is 02-132-1888.

The service counter will make travel and transport of the remains easier for the families of those who died Sunday when a One Two Go budget carrier flight OG 628 skidded from the runway and crashed into the wooded embankment at Phuket International Airport. (TNA)

Royal Silk, a truly Thai experience

Recently introduced, the Royal Silk service offers passengers that unique Thai hospitality before they even leave their destination with small flourishes that make Royal Silk the only way to fly.

We’re going to be honest here, Royal Silk is not another Singapore or Cathay, but there’s something unique about flying with THAI that is special. From check in, to luggage collection, there’s VIP service all the way.

With specialised counters, and usually a nearby sofa, checking-in has never been such a breeze; and if you’re at the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport, every check-in counter has its own individual armchair for weary travellers while your papers are being processed.

Suvarnabhumi, being the airport that THAI calls home, has a host of Royal Silk benefits such as exclusive Royal Silk processing through VIP immigration desks, and a slew of lounges in the terminal – including the famous ‘Spa Lounge’ where travellers can get a quick massage prior to commencing their journey.

Of course, being a Star Alliance member, if there isn’t a THAI lounge in your local airport, there will most likely be another partner lounge that Royal Silk members will have access to. So whether to hold an impromptu meeting, a quick check of the email, a bite to eat before flight, or just to relax with a magazine, the lounges have all the necessities to meet modern day business travel requirements.

After being fast tracked onto the plane and greeted warmly (Sawasdee-ka) by the smiling flight attendants, Royal Silk flyers will be shown to their own cabin, be it segregated or up a flight of stairs, depending on whether you’re flying a B777 or B747.

Met with a welcome drink, your choice of alcoholic or soft, that unique THAI welcome is apparent; from the inflight uniforms made from Thai silk, to that distinctive Thai attitude, flyers are guaranteed service that’s essentially Thai.

With the new shell sleeper seats, customers can recline up to 167ยบ, and allows for a pitch of 60". So relax in comfort, while you sleep, eat, work or watch some of the latest movies and television shows.

The new entertainment-on-demand system houses a suite of distractions including just released movies, episodes of popular television shows, 110 albums of music, and games to keep the kids entertained. For work, each seat has its own universal power point, individual phones, and shoulder height light in addition to the one fixed on the ceiling above your head.

And of course there’s the food, with a selection of Thai and European options, the five course menus are varied and tempting. Coupled with international wines, and usually rounded out with a selection of cheeses, mealtimes are a journey to themselves.

To top it all off, after you’ve landed and have proceeded to pick up your luggage, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that your checked luggage has been marked ‘Priority’ to ensure a speedy retrieval off the conveyor belt.

Int'l flights may return to Don Mueang

The board of Airports of Thailand (AoT) is to decide today if it will invite non-connecting international flights to return to Don Mueang airport to relieve congestion at Suvarnabhumi. An AoT source said the proposal is in line with a directive from the cabinet asking if better use could be made of Don Mueang.

The cabinet instructed AoT to look into the matter last February when it agreed Don Mueang should reopen for non-connecting domestic flights.

AoT then referred the matter for study to the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The ICAO agreed that non-connecting international flights should follow suit, the source said.

Suvarnabhumi was designed to serve up to 45 million passengers annually. But this year's traffic is expected to rise to 46.7 million passengers, from 43.12 million last year.

Traffic congestion has eased slightly as Thai Airways International, Nok Air and One-Two-Go airlines moved their non-connecting domestic flights back to Don Mueang when it reopened on March 25.

AoT will invite 25 airlines, including eight no-frills flyers, to move their non-connecting international flights back to Don Mueang on a voluntary basis.

Non-connecting international services of the 25 airlines account for 23% of all flights and 15% of all passengers visiting Suvarnabhumi airport.

If all these international flights return, the passenger volume at Suvarnabhumi airport will drop to about 37.2 million passengers a year. This means the new airport will not reach its saturation point until 2013.

This will also allow AoT to delay investing in Suvarnabhumi's expansion.

Transport permanent secretary Chaisawat Kittipornpaiboon said the tripartite committee agreed yesterday to urge AoT

to finalise compensation within the next month for people living around Suvarnabhui who were subjected to more than 70 decibels of noise.

AoT should conclude agreements to buy the 154 properties currently enduring that noise level.

Source : Bangkokpost

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pullman Bangkok King Power opens 15 october

Pullman Bangkok King Power, the city’s hottest new property catering to a modern urban clientele, is poised to revolutionize Bangkok’s accommodation sector with stunning architecture and interior design, new technologies and upscale meetings and business facilities.

The 386-room Pullman Bangkok King Power offers contemporary accommodation in four room categories with a single rate that includes a unique set of benefits according to room type. In room facilities include interactive TVs offering satellite programmes and fast internet access. It will also soon add an innovative e-check-in tool on the hotel’s website.

According to Accor Managing Director Michael Issenberg, Pullman Bangkok King Power brings a fresh perspective and attitude to hotel accommodation in Bangkok.

“The hotel has a unique look and feel to it. There is an excitement when you walk through the public areas, restaurants and rooms. It has a great design aesthetic that runs through the entire development. But Pullman Bangkok King Power is not only stunning in appearance, it is also very functional and user friendly which will make popular with both MICE planners and corporate clients.

“High end incentives, corporate meetings and conferences will be a growing segment for Pullman Bangkok King Power as it establishes itself very quickly both in domestically and overseas MICE markets.

Pullman Bangkok’s main Ballroom can accommodate over 1,000 persons supported by cutting edge audio video technology. These “smart” venues were conceived and built to attract up market MICE events, and the hotel promises acknowledgement of corporate requests within 45 minutes and will provide a tailor-made package in less than 24 hours.

Mr. Issenberg also noted Pullman Bangkok King Power’s other strength was its ‘new generation’ of business facilities catering to an increasingly dynamic and tech savvy market.

“Pullman Bangkok King Power has been developed to cater to a new generation of corporate clientele. The owner and management team has put a lot of thought of thinking ahead of guest expectations, so Pullman Bangkok King Power has established pro-active procedures in terms of service and catering to road weary corporate traveler.”

Pullman Bangkok King Power offers an Executive Floor supported by the hotel’s Executive Lounge where guests enjoy exclusive check-in and check-out privileges. This valued added service extends to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, where they will be given exclusive access to the King Power Executive Lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Located in central Bangkok, Pullman Bangkok King Power blends the convenience of a city hotel with a modern design. The hotel is attached to the new King Power Complex on Rangnam Road, close to the Victory Monument, and within walking distance to an emerging shopping, dining and entertainment enclave that is attracting affluent young professionals and families. This prime city location offers access to two BTS Skytrain stations within walking distance and easy access to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport via two expressway entrances.

The hotel’s restaurants and bars serve a range of genuine Thai, Asian, European and Californian cuisines. Extensive shopping options and dining outlets are also available at the adjacent King Power Duty Free complex.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Home-truth time for Suvarnabhumi

Iata and others offer harsh words of advice to airport's operators

Aviation experts evaluating Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport after one year of operation have said the airport is losing competitiveness due to high charges while still being poor in public services.

They urge authorities to add more capacity, either through a mid-field terminal or a low-cost terminal.

International and local aviation associations as well as airport users were asked to comment on the airport, which will mark its first anniversary of operation on September 28.

According to Albert Tjoeng, International Air Transport Association (Iata) manager of corporate communications for Asia Pacific, general operations at Suvarnabhumi are better than when it opened.

He said signposting had improved and there were more toilets but there was still work to be done before Suvarnabhumi could be a world-class airport ranking among the top 20 airports in the Airports Council International's survey.

These include more signs, redesigning the retail area, installing more toilets and adding more capacity, either through a mid-field terminal or a low-cost terminal.

Tjoeng said Airports of Thailand (AOT) should quickly rectify the remaining deficiencies as well as addressing the outstanding problems identified during the operations and security audits conducted in April this year.

AOT has reassured Iata that it is addressing these findings in consultation with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao).

Regarding the airport's competitiveness, Iata was critical of the unilateral 15-per-cent increase in landing/parking charges, along with increases in other airport charges in April. The concession fees levied by AOT on ground-handling companies are being passed on to airlines.

The total turnaround costs at Bangkok are higher than at Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for various aircraft types, so airlines pay more than at Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and yet get worse service.

Moving forward, AOT needs to establish an effective consultation process with Iata and the airlines to reach a long-term charges agreement to be in line with international best practices, Tjoeng said, and AOT needs to take steps to improve cost efficiency to ensure that its own expenses and investments are cost efficient.

Productivity improvements, lack of wasteful investment and optimal procurement policies are important to keep costs to a minimum: "Airlines should not be burdened with additional costs due to poor planning, compensation issues, repair costs arising from defects at the airport, duplicated services as a result of operating two airports, and the other mistakes of AOT," he added.

Iata is also opposed to AOT's suggestion of a noise charge on passengers and airlines. Airlines and their passengers cannot be made responsible for measures aimed at alleviating noise when they have had little or no influence on the location of airports or on the land-use policies in the vicinity of an airport.

The charge would increase the cost of operations without addressing the core issue, he noted, suggesting instead that AOT fund any compensation from its own finances.

Icao's balanced approach should also be adopted by having an effective land-use policy, reducing noise at source, and implementing noise-abatement air-traffic-control procedures, he said.

Tjoeng also commented on the use of two airports, saying Iata continued to advocate a single airport as the preferred long-term solution if Bangkok was to be a strong aviation hub in the region. "Having two airports splits the passengers, airlines and AOT's resources and leads to lower cost-efficiency and inconvenience for passengers."

Hence AOT should urgently inject additional capacity at Suvarnabhumi by building either a mid-field terminal or a low-cost terminal. If the decision is to operate two airports, then it is critical that there be a level playing field for all airlines. "All carriers should be given the choice of where they wish to operate from. Airport charges should be transparent and accurately allocated, and there should not be any cross-subsidisation between the two airports."

Brian Sinclair Thompson of the Board of Airline Representatives at Thailand said newly opened airports generally had many problems.

Yet he noted that Suvarnabhumi Airport's capacity was already full, so that airline operators were urging the government to develop a third terminal in order to meet higher demand.

"The airlines want to see further investment at the airport next year when the new government is established," said Thomson, adding that AOT itself needed to solve internal problems, especially the search for a new leader.

Thomson also said Bangkok should have a single airport, Suvarnabhumi, and must attract users with low charges.

"AOT is focusing on increasing revenue, unlike many busy airports such as London's Heathrow, which receives charges worth 15 per cent of total revenue," he said.

Yongyut Lujintanon, Cathay Pacific sales and marketing manager for Thailand and Burma, said the overall operation had improved, particularly in infrastructure, while people working at the airport were now familiar with the new place.

The airport's vision of being an aviation hub was still unclear, he said, though in spite of poor policy, many airlines were waiting to broaden their network or add flights into Thailand.

Bt3m for airport noise victims

( – After nearly one year of wrangling with aviation authorities, there has been some progress in compensation disbursement to victims of noise pollution around Suvarnabhumi airport.

According to the Airports of Thailand (AoT), the company is ready to allocate a budget of 2.1 million baht which will go towards a mobile medical unit for residents of the Lad Krabang area in Samut Prakarn province.

The mobile medical units will be in service during the weekends from 9:00am-15:30pm until November 2007.

Another 900,000 baht has also been set aside for Lad Krabang district authorities to use in dealing with flood problems.

The move comes just weeks after a threat was made by a group of affected residents to release balloons to disrupt air traffic if their calls for help were not answered.

Airlines praise improved Suvarnabhumi

National and international airlines have praised an overall improved service at Suvarnabhumi airport which will mark its first anniversary on Sep 28, airport director Serirat Prasutanond said Thursday.

He said a number of airline managers have lauded the continuous improvement of service at Suvarnbhumi airport, adding that airport officials had followed up on arising problems and worked out solutions accordingly.

One of the positive changes is a permission for licensed taxis to offer service on the second floor of the passenger terminal, starting Oct. 1 to solve the problem of unauthorized taxis touting for passengers, Serirat said.

The ongoing improvement of the airport includes additional restrooms in October and more check-in counters for passengers soon.

Serirat said the CTX luggage scanner system has been fully operated after some technical problems earlier.

On the noise pollution which has triggered dissatisfaction among residents near the airport, Serirat said
negotiations with affected homeowners would help find solutions that satisfy both sides.

The Airports of Thailand (AoT) will pay a combined compensation of 170 million baht to affected residents on Friday.

Asked about an extension of space for airline offices at Suvarnabhumi, the airport director said the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) would be in charge of drawing out an initial plan.

The ICAO will also conduct a feasibility study to determine if Don Mueang airport should be operated in compatible with Suvarnabhumi airport. All issues will be finalized in October, he said. (TNA)

Thai Airways International moves Phuket Flights to Krabi

Following the deadly One-Two-Go plane crash that took place Sunday evening in Phuket, Thai Airways International has cancelled its return flights on the route between Bangkok and Phuket until the airport reopens.

The company has now adjusted its flight schedule for departure and arrival of flights routed to and from Phuket International Airport. The flight routed Bangkok – Phuket will today operate Bangkok – Krabi instead, as a special flight to serve those needing to travel to Phuket, by landing in Krabi and providing ground transportation to Phuket, as follows:

- Flight TG 1205, routed Don Muang – Krabi: Departs Don Muang at 10.40 hrs., arrives in Krabi at 12.00 hrs.

- Flight TG 1206, routed Krabi – Don Muang: Departs Krabi at 12.45 hrs., arrives in Don Muang at 14.10 hrs.

- Flight TG 1245, routed Don Muang – Krabi: Departs Don Muang at 14.45 hrs., arrives in Krabi at 16.05 hrs.

- Flight TG 1246, routed Krabi – Don Muang: Departs Krabi at 16.50 hrs., arrives in Don Muang at 18.10 hrs.

- Flight TG 203, routed Suvarnabhumi – Krabi: Departs Suvarnabhumi at 10.15 hrs., arrives in Krabi at 11.35 hrs.

- Flight TG 1204, routed Krabi – Suvarnabhumi: Departs Krabi at 12.25 hrs., arrives in Suvarnabhumi at 13.45 hrs.

Passengers are being requested to check the flight schedule or inquire for more information by calling THAI’s Sales Office in Phuket at Tel. +66-76-351218, +66-76-205334, and Call Center Tel. +66-2356-1111.

Currently, Phuket International Airport is expected to reopen for normal service from 17.00 hours local time today (Monday, 17 September).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sleepless in Suvarnabhumi, but smiling

Sleepless residents living near Suvarnabhumi airport have reached a deal with aviation authorities following talks on Tuesday.

Key protestor, Prasert Boonkaew, said he was satisfied with promises made by Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen that he would follow up on the progress of noise mitigation schemes and financial compensation owed to affected residents.

Protest leaders warned residents not to release balloons in a bid to disrupt air traffic, as they had threatened before the emergency meeting was held.

900 illegal taxi drivers, guides held

Airport continuing serious crackdown

More than 900 illegal taxi drivers and tour guides were arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport in June and July as the airport is working harder to ensure passenger safety. Suvarnabhumi airport director Serirat Prasutanont said the crackdown had brought illegal taxi and guide activities down by 70-80%.

The airport sought police help in cracking down on illegal operators preying on visitors. In June, police made 235 arrests, and in July, 686 arrests.

With more than 10 people arrested more than once, the Airports of Thailand (AoT)'s legal division is exploring how to bar any people arrested more than three times for such an offence from entering the airport premises.

He admitted such illegal operations had damaged the country's image because some customers were over-charged, assaulted and robbed.

Mr Serirat said the airport is also preparing records of transportation and tourism agents and their vehicles' registration numbers.

Notices would be put up at the airport displaying taxi charges for trips to other provinces as fixed by the Land Transport Department. For a destination within Bangkok, the charge would be as shown by the meter, plus the 50-baht airport charge. Mr Serirat added that any taxi drivers found to have overcharged a passenger would be prohibited from picking up passengers at the airport for at least 10 days.

The crackdown has been a blessing for the legal limousine and taxi business. Limousine service operators now made 850-900 trips a day, up from 700 previously.

Taxi trips rose from 4,500 to 6,000 a day.

Starting next month, taxi pick-ups would be relocated from the first floor to the second floor of the terminal, where passengers arrive, he said.

Some Bangkok Mass Transit Authority buses would be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers on the first and fourth floors of the terminal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thai govt to spend Baht174 million on curbing noise at Suvarnabhumi airport

The Thai government has set aside Baht174 million (Rs20.60 crore, $5 million) to spend on residents living near Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport, who have been protesting against noise pollution. But the cabinet's spending plan did not mention how the money would be spent.

The decision came after thousands of residents rallied outside the airport on Sunday 9 September in what they said would be their "last peaceful move" to pressure aviation authorities to address their grievances.

They said the airport has been slow in making compensation payments and in mitigating the impact of the noise that has haunted them for over a year now.

Airbus A380 Delayed After Bump at Thai Airport

An Airbus A380 demonstration flight in Bangkok operated by Airbus SAS and carrying 150 passengers was delayed for almost four hours today after the aircraft hit a building at the international airport.

The plane, scheduled to depart at 9:45 a.m. local time from Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok to the northern city of Chiang Mai, took off at about 1:15 p.m. after engineers removed two winglets attached to the plane, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said in Bangkok.

The superjumbo jetliner arrived in Bangkok yesterday as part of an eight-day tour of Asian nations, including Hong Kong, Vietnam and South Korea. Airbus, the world's largest maker of commercial aircraft, won certification from European and U.S. authorities in July for the double-decker A380 model to fly into most of the world's major airports.

``The aircraft can operate safely without the winglets,'' designed to help save fuel for long hauls, Schaffrath said by mobile telephone on the plane before its departure. ``The damage has been carefully assessed and we will continue with our Asian roadshow.''

The A380, scheduled for its first delivery to Singapore Airlines Ltd. in October, has already made test flights to more than 40 airports, including Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, New York John F. Kennedy, Los Angeles and Sydney, Airbus said in July.

None of the 150 passengers on board the Bangkok flight, including reporters, Thai airport officials and diplomats, were injured.

`Small Bump'

The A380's left wingtip bumped into a Thai Airways International Pcl maintenance building while it was moving to the runway for take-off, Thai Airways Chairman Chalit Pukbhasuk told reporters at the airport earlier.

``This is just a small bump, which doesn't damage the whole plane,'' said Chalit. Thai Airways President Apinan Sumanaseni said the accident happened because crew and ``supporting'' staff at the airport ``weren't familiar'' with the A380.

``We have to be more careful in the future,'' Apinan said. ``We will have to make adjustments when we use this type of aircraft.''

Thai Airways, Southeast Asia's second-biggest carrier, may add as many as 65 planes worth as much as 350 billion baht ($10.2 billion) over the next 10 years as part of a fleet expansion program, Apinan said Aug. 10. They include Airbus A330-300 planes and the A380.

Saving Fuel

The winglets are pieces of metal attached to the plane's wings, designed to save fuel. Airport engineers removed the two winglets from the aircraft's right and left wings before the plane was ready for its second test flight.

Airbus competes with Boeing Co. and is running two years behind schedule on A380 deliveries. Singapore Airlines will take delivery of the world's largest commercial aircraft on Oct. 15, 1-1/2 years behind schedule, the airline said Aug. 16.

The accident in Thailand won't impact the Toulouse, France- based plane maker's ``delivery of the aircraft'' to airlines that have placed orders, Schaffrath said.

``All the planes being manufactured are on track,'' he said.

Tripartite panel to weigh residents' demands

The Transport Ministry agreed yesterday to set up a tripartite committee to help meet the demands of enraged residents affected by aircraft noise at Suvarnabhumi airport.

The committee will be formed next week and will comprise Airports of Thailand (AoT) officials and residents' representatives, and an independent party to include legal experts and academics, Transport Minister Adm Theera Haocharoen said.

The panel will act as an adviser to the ministry and examine the residents' demands to see if they can be accommodated within the framework of the law.

It will also suggest solutions.

The move is an effort by state agencies to calm down thousands of residents from 32 housing estates to the north and south of the airport.

They have threatened to release a large number of balloons into the air to disrupt air traffic if AoT does not broaden its noise mitigation scheme and compensation payments to include more homes.

''They have promised not to carry out [violent] actions,'' Adm Theera said after meeting with villagers' representatives yesterday.

''I believe solutions will become clearer within nine days, even though all problems will require a longer time to solve.''

The residents staged a mass protest at the airport on Sunday and gave the AoT nine days to meet their demands.

Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um said the AoT agreed to hire outside institutions to re-inspect areas affected by plane noise to ensure fair compensation for the residents.

An earlier inspection by the Pollution Control Department (PCD), endorsed by a cabinet resolution in November last year, suggested paying compensation to 1,800 households suffering from noise higher than 70 decibels and 25,000 households affected by noise levels between 60 and 70 decibels.

However, the cabinet revised its resolution on May 29 this year, reducing the number of households in the first group to 773 and the second group to 18,253 _ drawing fierce opposition from the residents.

A ministry source argued the May 29 resolution was soundly based. The adjustment was needed because the PCD based its inspection on the maximum number of flights, which was not the actual situation.

The AoT also will not pay compensation to people who settled in the area after 2001, when the airport's construction began.

''The AoT board is ready to help affected residents ... but that help would be based on reality,'' said AoT board chairman Saprang Kalayanamitr.

Protest leader Wanchat Manathamsombat said he wanted the tripartite committee to work on following the Nov 21 cabinet resolution.

Mr Wanchat yesterday stood down as protest leader, saying he feared he would not be able to control the residents' anger if their demands were not met.

Airport authority to meet residents of Suvarnabhumi airport on noise pollution

The Airports of Thailand (AoT) which manages Bangkok's new international airport plans to hold talks with representatives of local residents currently living in the neighborhood of Suvarnabhumi airport who are being seriously affected by air traffic-related noise pollution.

AoT spokesman Chirmsak Pinthong said the state firm will negotiate with several representatives of residents around Suvarnabhumi airport by the end of this month so that compensation can be offered.

The AoT may respond to the damage caused by noise pollution either by buying the victims' houses or paying for home repairs, he said.

Only those who have lived in the area prior to 2001 will be considered for planned compensation, which is yet to be approved by the cabinet. If approved, all compensation would be provided next month.

Airlines and passengers may be charged an extra fee for causing noise pollution, as was done in Japan and Australia, he said, adding that the AoT is considering collecting the special fee to compensate residents affected by aircraft noise. (TNA)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Novotel Suvarnabhumi Aiport Hotel has been nominated 2007 Three of the Best Airport Hotels in Asia for Meeting & Conference from CEI Asia Pacific

Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel offers the most professional with high-technology and versatile meeting venues for any kind of event, covering a spacious function area 2,400 square meters with 8 private rooms. Suvarnabhumi Grand Ballroom is the largest ballroom, pillar less with 6.5 meters high-ceiling. It is capable of organizing any size meeting from 10 to 1,000 guests, to virtually any specifications. All function rooms are provided the most modern conference equipments with professional banquet services are well-prepared to assist you in organizing and to meet all minute-by-minute requirement, before, during and after the event. During the event itself, the hotel technology is unrivalled. The most advanced audio-visual systems have been built into each meeting room, with centrally controlled computer-enhanced display, monitor and projection systems. Also have the latest technology, CCTV (Close Circuit Television) which is provides for the opened-conference or any meetings guests need.

Novotel Suvarnabhumi Aiport Hotel has been nominated 2007 Three of the Best Airport Hotels in Asia for Meeting & Conference from CEI Asia Pacific.

Protestors block Suvarnabhumi terminal before dispersing

Some 1,000 Disgruntled residents from 32 housing estates affected from noise pollution at Suvarnabhumi airport in this province neighboring Bangkok Sunday marched on the airport and blocked access to the passenger terminal. After senior officials accepted their demands for consideration, the protestors dispersed without a report of any serious violent incidents.

Samut Prakan governor Anuwat Maetheeviboonvudh and Suvarnabhumi airport director Serirat Prasutanond held talks with protesting residents and accepted demands, submitted earlier to the Transport Ministry, for talks with Transport Minister Thira Haocharoen and board members of the Airports of Thailand (AoT).

During the protest, leaders of the demonstrating local residents took turns speaking against the state-run Airports of Thailand (AoT) for solving their problems too slowly, while some 500 airport officials and police officers provided security at the airport which has been open commercially for less than a year.

Airport director Serirat said the protestors’ demands would be forwarded to the AoT board meeting due to begin Monday 1 pm.

The residents want concerned government agencies to honour last year's November 21 Cabinet resolution and want the AoT to adjust the flight timetable by having commercial airliners refrain from landing or departing during night-time like some countries which would not disturb their sleep.

Leaders of the residents said today they planned to file lawsuits against interim Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont and his entire cabinet, except for Natural Resource and Environment Minister Kasem Sanitwong Na Ayutthaya because of his earlier help to residents in evaluating the loud noise at the airport.

They said the reason they had decided to take action against the current cabinet because they government had disregarded its earlier resolution and adopted a new measure on May 29, 2007 to replace that of November 21. The change has left the local residents being severely affected by noise pollution.

Residents said they would release balloons to disrupt traffic of commercial airlines in the next nine days if no progress to solve their hardships was found.

Panel will negotiate with residents over noise

Homeowners, AOT, ministry, lawyers will hammer out a deal

The Transport Ministry will form a tripartite committee to negotiate with residents affected by noise pollution caused by aircraft taking off and landing at Suvarnabhumi airport. Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um said the committee will comprise residents, the Airports of Thailand and the Transport Ministry and a team of lawyers.

The panel will act as a go-between in negotiating with residents for solutions, he said.

The panel was seen as a move to appease residents who threatened to block entrances to the airport today in protest at the sluggish mitigation process.

He said he would take the proposal to a joint meeting of the ministry and the AoT tomorrow.

The meeting will assess the operations of Suvarnabhumi airport which will mark its first anniversary on Sept 29.

Educational institutions or other agencies will be hired to find out exactly how many people have been afflicted by aircraft noise. A team of psychiatrists will also be sent to help residents.

Sansern: Too few officials

Mr Sansern said the process of providing assistance to residents had been slow because residents suffering from the noise pollution had outnumbered officials assigned to negotiate with them.

There were currently only five AoT officials engaged in holding talks with residents, he said, adding that the state had struck deals with only nine residents so far.

He also attributed the slow progress to the lack of clear information on noise levels around the airport and the precise number of residents suffering from noise pollution.

Mr Sansern said he had floated the idea of the three-party panel to residents and they agreed with the proposal.

He told the AoT to take steps to buy strips of land at both ends of the airport for development for aviation-related business, since those areas are unfit for human settlement, he said.

Representatives of 32 housing estates affected by the noise pollution yesterday distributed leaflets calling on residents to join a rally which will be held today.

They threatened to proceed to Suvarnabhumi and block its entrance to pressure the government to consider their demands.

Prasert Boonkaew, a community leader, said residents disagreed with the AoT's proposal that it negotiate with residents at the end of the month.

He said the transport ministry's committee on compensation reached a preliminary agreement with residents last Tuesday.

The committee agreed to ask the AoT board to review its resolution on payments of compensation, as demanded by residents

Airport residents renew balloon threat

An angry meeting of fed-up noise victims around Suvarnabhumi airport on Sunday gave authorities nine days to solve the noise conflict or they will launch balloons to disrupt airliner traffic.

Some 2,000 people gathered at Moo Baan Ruam Rudee in Lad Krabang district of Samut Prakarn province next to Bangkok, aiming to pressure authorities to disburse financial compensation promised to them.

Wearing hats with a picture of balloons and two planes colliding, the residents threatened to release the balloons to cause disruption to air traffic if their calls were not answered.

Officials have asked the residents to drop any such dangerous plans, but the noise victims have held the balloons as a bargaining chip.

Around 100 police officers were dispatched around Suvarnabhumi airport in case the protesters decided to march to the airport during the rally, but no incidents were reported.

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