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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Saprang quits AoT board, others follow


Saprang: `Under no pressure to quit'


All but one member of the Airports of Thailand (AoT) board tendered their resignations yesterday, paving the way for the Samak government to appoint a new executive board. Fourteen members led by board chairman Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr requested that their resignation take effect today.


Only AoT president Chana U-sathaporn remains as a board member and a general assembly of shareholders will be held on March 14 to select a new board.


Gen Saprang insisted he had not been under pressure to step down as board chairman, saying his resignation was good timing and that it did not affect the agency.


''I do not regret anything I did in my capacity as board chairman over the past year,'' he said.


He defended the slump in revenues of AoT, saying it was not a failure of management. He said the decrease was partly due to the conflict with King Power Plc, the operator of duty-free shops and commercial areas at Suvarnabhumi airport. ''My decisions have not been based on any negative attitudes towards the company. I do not have the power to tamper [with the AoT's and the firm's operations],'' he said.


Chirmsak Pinthong, AoT board member and spokesman, yesterday warned the next board against making changes to the Saprang board's decisions.


He said the outgoing board has tried to correct the wrongs and has agreed to a proposal to impose noise charges upon the airlines using Suvarnabhumi airport.


Mr Chirmsak asked the new board to study the proposal which is aimed at encouraging airlines to switch to low noise-emitting aircraft and setting up a fund to compensate residents affected by aircraft noise.


He said there are two options for noise charges imposed on airlines _ the charges will depend on the amount of aircraft noise or on the period of take-off and landing.


Vice ACM Chana said the board has approved the noise charges in principle, and that AoT's management has yet to work out the details for submission to the new board.


Meanwhile, Transport Minister Santi Prompat said the ministry will speed up construction of a third runway to accommodate traffic following repairs of the eastern runway.


A 2,000-metre length of the eastern runway is being closed for repairs for 50 days as surface damage over a long distance has been found.


The damage stretches for 600 metres out of the total 4,000 metres of the eastern runway.


Mr Santi added that Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee has volunteered to work to shore up the image of Suvarnabhumi airport.


''We will use every means we can including marketing to erase the bad image. The airport has a lot of advantages,'' said Mr Santi.


The third runway project worth 7.1 billion baht is part of the second phase of Suvarnabhumi airport's development which covers five years under a budget of 48.12 billion baht.

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