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Suvarnabhumi Airport : Flight Status

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Government halts plan for 65 new airliners

Thai Airways International's plan to buy 65 new aircraft at a cost of 400 billion baht might have to be passed on to the next government for consideration due to several unclear details. Transport Minister Adm Theera Haocharoen said some issues remained vague and needed clarification.

Thai Airways' board chairman and air force commander ACM Chalit Phukphasuk endorsed the plan to buy the planes on Saturday. The 10-year plan starts next year.

The national carrier is waiting for comments from related agencies, including the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, on its rationale and investment worthiness.

A ministerial source said marketing, projection and operation targets must be clearly set out before determining the types and numbers of new aircraft purchased. Issues which must be worked out in more detail include growth projection of the Asian market, particularly China and India, and market segmentation.

Thai Airways is expecting to retire 47 aging aircraft and get the 65 new planes through rental and purchase arrangements.

The airline plans to add 16 planes for long-haul flights, each with 300-500 seats.

Also on the shopping list are 29 medium to long-range jets, each with 250-50 seats, and 20 planes with 150-250 seats for domestic and regional routes.

Meanwhile, Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um said Don Mueang airport would serve international flights over the next five to 10 years while Suvarnabhumi gets expanded.

The Airports of Thailand (AoT) was told to submit plans on the Suvarnabhumi airport expansion and the use of Don Mueang to the cabinet before the Dec 23 election.

"We are rushing to seek cabinet approval for the overall framework, but not going into budgets or any investments," Mr Sansern said.

With the number of people using Suvarnabhumi airport approaching the annual capacity of 45 million passengers, the new airport needed an additional terminal as well as other buildings, he said.

As part of the plan, the AoT must conduct a feasibility study and draw up a plan for transferring some international airlines back to the old airport.

The AoT needed to work on connections between Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang as well as logistics management, because the skytrain project linking the two airports would take a long time.

Don Mueang now serves non-connecting domestic flights.

The 93-year-old airport was decommissioned when Suvarnabhumi opened in September last year, but was reopened in March to ease pressure on the new airport.

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Thai Cargo sets up perishables distribution centre in Europe

The Operations Centre Building in Thai Airways International Suvarnabhumi Airport has signed a deal to set up a Thai perishables distribution centre in Germany this week.

The joint venture will enable Thai agricultural products to enter Europe and South East Europe, with a framework yet to be negotiated to reflect the objectives of both groups.

The centre based to be in Munich Airport was secured when managing director of Thai Airways International Cargo and Mail Commercial, Vorapravat Suebsaeng; Chairman of Thai AirFreight Forwarders Association (TAFA), Kovit Thanyarattakul; Chief Operating Officer Munich International Airport, Peter Trautmann; and CEO and President, Cargogate Flughafen Muenchen.Roger Scheifele all entered into and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

As a result, it is anticipated that Munich international airport will become the main gateway for the cargo shipment of agricultural products with the business helping to support and serve the public sector exports.

The Thai Government and Thai AirFreight Forwarders Association (TAFA) hope to find support from the private sector to this project and along with the Bavarian Government policy to approve the joint venture plans for Thai investors in relation to Munich Airport.

TAFA and four other companies will assist in an operational capacity to manage the temperature control cargo at the centre at Suvarnabhumi Airport through to its arrival in Munich. Cargogate will draw up designs for the centre and help develop the business plan.

This venture will also have the potential to increase profitability because both parties will be using the service.

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Airport-area residents seek halt to flights

Residents affected by noise pollution around Suvarnabhumi airport filed a lawsuit at the Administrative Court, asking it to ban air traffic at the airport between 10pm and 5am.

About 50 residents went to the court on Wednesday morning, saying that the period should be their rest time.

Chaisak Angsuwan, director-general of the Aviation Department, admitted that Thai economics especially aviation business will be greatly affected if the court grants the residents emergency protection and bans the air traffic between the time.

Airport of Thailand (AOT) chief executive Chana U-sathaporn said he was worried.. The matter will be brought into a board meeting on Thursday for urgent discussion.

Air Marshal Chana insisted AOT is not neglecting the complaints of residents, adding that it is willing to pay them compensation if new studies show they should have higher payment.

He said AOT has set aside a budget of about 3 to 4 billion baht or so to cover the compensation cost.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport campaign to become a top ten airport

The Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) announced its intention to make Suvarnabhumi a serious contender in the ‘Airport of the World 2009’ contest.

These comments were conveyed by AOT at the recent Incentive, Travel & Convention, Meetings Asia (IT & CMA) show held in Bangkok, Thailand. AOT hopes to enter Suvarnabhumi Airport into the Airport Council International’s (ACI) 2009 global contest.

Deputy General Manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport and flying officer, Narongchai Tanadchangsaeng believes that Suvarnabhumi has the capacity to handle 45 million passengers a year and to increase this to 54 million in the future.

The airport is in the process of completing 700 evaluation surveys which is one part of joining the ACI’s Airport Service Quality program.

Six main strategies have been drawn up by a working committee to oversee the campaign for Suvarnabhumi to become a top ten airport.

The first one is to improve security in charge of handling baggage and any help given to staff.
The second aspect is the development of adequate facilities in the Passenger Terminal and services for travellers such as clear direction signs, toilet amenities, efficient trolley service and many more.

The exterior and interior environment will need to undergo improvement and all other relevant airport staff including security guards needs to be briefed on what is considered excellent service.

The airport will also have to seek cooperation from the various operators and businesses within the airport to improve on the current standard of service to satisfy passengers.

As well, there is a need for sufficient commercial areas like restaurants, money exchange booths and retail shops to meet passenger needs.

Narongchai Tanadchangsaeng expressed hope and said that the airport will do its best to submit to the best level of performance and life national pride.

“Suvarnabhumi is the front door in welcoming the country’s guests. If our guests are warmly welcomed, they will be more impressed with Thailand,” he said.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bangkok needs second airport according to Transport Minister

Thailand’s Transport Ministry has put their backing behind allowing Don Mueang Airport to operate international flights before the completion of a feasibility study due to increasing congestion at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Transport Minister, Theera Haocharoen said the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) study would only be completed after seven months at the earliest which would prove too late after Suvarnabhumi is already approaching its full capacity of 45 million passengers a year.

"This issue should be cleared before my term as transport minister comes to an end," he said.

The operator of both airports, AOT is in the process of finalising guidelines to resume operations at Don Mueang and plans to meet with international airlines on November 26 to discuss the move. Several airlines have reportedly voiced their opposition to the move, saying dual airports would only be efficient with good transport links.

Next year an Airport Rail Link running from Makkasan to Suvarnabhumi should be completed, although already behind schedule due to construction delays.

Thai AirAsia’s Chief Executive Officer Tassapon Bijleveld has refused any move to Don Mueang Airport saying, “Thai AirAsia has already moved our head office to a location near Suvarnabhumi”.

Bangkok Airways also said they plan to operate at Suvarnabhumi only for its domestic and international flights.

Honorary president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, Wichit na Ranong said he disagreed with the plan without a high-speed train service linking the two airports in place and instead suggested Don Mueang be used as a special-purpose airport or for chartered flights only.

AOT vice chairman Narongsak Sangapong said Don Mueang should be used as a second international airport for the next few years until Suvarnabhumi could build a new terminal thereby increasing its capacity.

"We would need to consult with international airlines as the reopening will take time. Airlines will need to move back to Don Mueang and there will be new investments for ticket booths and passenger lounges," Mr Narongsak said.

Chaisak Angkasuwan, director-general of the Civil Aviation Department said airlines that returned to Don Mueang would be on a voluntary basis and that the Department would not provide any incentives for relocations.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thai airport 'faces bird threat'

Flocks of birds are creating a safety threat at an airport in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, local reports say.

Open-billed stork
Large birds can be sucked into the engines of aircraft on take-off

Birds have been involved in 48 minor collisions with planes at Suvarnabhumi airport, according to the Bangkok Post.

Thousands of birds are said to be attracted by drainage canals around the runways and food on nearby farms.

Earlier this month pilots' groups expressed concern that a major accident could happen if a large bird was caught in the engines of a plane on take-off.

Abundant food

Airports of Thailand (AoT), which runs Suvarnabhumi, monitored the runways after pilots voiced their fears.

The organisation found that the most serious threat came from open-billed storks, which gather in flocks of up to 700 and can grow to around 80cm (31.5in) in length.

They also found that the large fish ponds and tall trees at a temple 6km (3.7 miles) away were providing additional food, shelter and breeding grounds for the birds.

Efforts to scare the birds away, including firecrackers and bird nets, have so far failed.

The AoT is now attempting to control rubbish and vegetation around the runways to reduce the amount of food available.

Suvarnabhumi, which means golden land in Thai, opened in September 2006 at a cost of $4bn (£1.95bn).

The construction project was plagued by problems, including cracks in the runway and claims of corruption by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup shortly before the official opening.

A government representative told the Bangkok Post that the newly-formed Thai aviation safety committee will meet in November to discuss possible solutions to the problem.

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