NEWS UPDATE... 15th December, 2011
2nd phase development to be finished one year ahead
The Airports of Thailand (AOT) is to speed up the second phase expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport to 2016, one year ahead of its scheduled completion in 2017.
The Bt62.5 billion investment is being planned for the second phase, according to Transport Minister Sukampol Suwannathat. The ministry plans to strengthen Suvarnabhumi Airport’s position as the region's aviation hub.
Acting Suvarnabhumi Airport Director Somchai Sawasdipol said the expansion of Thailand's gateway would lead to AOT suffering from a lack of liquidity from 2014. The company plans to issue bonds and debentures to help solve the problem.
Sukampol said that the AOT will develop Don Mueang Airport, mainly used for domestic flights, in cooperation with Thai Airways International as a maintenance centre and aviation industry hub. However, the airport will continue to service chartered flights and private jets.
In terms of the rehabilitation works being carried out at Don Mueang Airport following this year's floods, the fixing of the eastern runway is scheduled for completion by February at a cost of Bt489 million while Bt1.25 billion is being spent to restore the western runway, which should be operational in January.
Sukampol said that the ministry has also instructed AOT to develop Phuket International Airport and has allocated a budget of Bt5.7 billion. An additional passenger terminal will be built and the three-kilometre runway will be extended by another 500-700 metres to accommodate large aircraft from Europe.
When finished in a few years from now, Phuket airport will be able to accommodate 12 million passengers per annum, nearly doubling its existing capacity of 6.5 million passengers annually.
Source: The Nation December 15, 2011 2:41 pm
NEWS UPDATE... 22nd November, 2011
Air traffic ready for post-flood rebound
Air traffic through Suvarnabhumi airport, which has slumped by 20% in recent weeks on the flood crisis, looks set to swing back soon, says an aviation industry leader.
Passenger throughput and flight movements should begin returning to normal towards the festive season near the end of next month or in early January.
"We ought to see the traffic bouncing back shortly. Passenger sentiment is improving as Thailand dries out and concerns about Suvarnabhumi possibly flooding are gradually allayed," Marisa Pongpattanapun, chairwoman of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC), told the Bangkok Post yesterday.
The AOC has as its members the station managers of 80 international carriers operating through Thailand's gateway airport.
Suvarnabhumi started seeing traffic throughput slip towards the end of last month as massive run-off from the North inundated the capital's northern suburbs.
Daily passenger volume at Suvarnabhumi, to the east of Bangkok, has dropped to 100,000 from 130,000 pre-crisis, while aircraft movements have been reduced to roughly 800 from 900 as airlines lowered capacity to match weaker demand.
Total freight pushed through the airport has declined by nearly 7% to just over 3,100 tonnes, said Somchai Sawasdeepon, a senior executive vice-president of Airports of Thailand Plc, the operator of Thailand's six main airports including Suvarnabhumi.
Ms Marisa said the imminent resumption in traffic will be due to international passengers' greater confidence that Suvarnabhumi, which is protected by a 3.5-metre-high dyke, is most unlikely to be inundated _ their prime concern.
The misconception that the flooded Don Mueang, Bangkok's old airport and portrayed in news photos of aircraft sitting in in floodwater, was Suvarnabhumi has also largely been dispelled, she said.
Ms Marisa credited authorities and the airline industry for working together to put out the correct information about Suvarnabhumi's status.
She suggested the government become more proactive in disseminating information in order to quicken the pace of resumption.
Suraphon Svetasreni, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, on Sunday said the international tourist flow should begin to pick up in the second half of next month.
He estimates the flood crisis will cost the country 300,000 tourists, or a mere 1.58% of the 19 million arrivals projected early this year for 2011. The loss to tourism revenue will be 15 billion baht.
Source: Boonsong Kositchotethana, Bangkok Post, 22nd November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 10th November, 2011
Nok Air stays longer at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Nok Air will operate flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport through January 31, as Don Mueang Airport remains closed because of the flood crisis.
The budget airline will also change flight schedules to fit passengers' needs and convenience, it said in a statement.
It maintains operations to 15 destinations: Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Phuket, Hat Yai, Sakon Nakhon, Nan, Phrae, Roi Et, Mae Sot and Loei.
Source: The Nation, 10th November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 9th November, 2011
Suvarnabhumi Airport Arrivals Dip As Water Rises
Passenger traffic through Suvarnabhumi airport is falling more noticeably as the floodwater edges ever closer to Bangkok's central business district, forcing more evacuations yesterday.
Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) executives said daily passenger throughput now stands at just over 100,000 passengers, down from 130,000 in the last week of October when the threat of flooding was felt less.
"The impact is becoming more drastic, and we'll likely see the decline reach nearly 20% [year-on-year] very soon," said one executive.
But as yet, no airline has cut flight frequencies.
An average of 900 scheduled takeoffs and landings occur at Suvarnabhumi, Thailand's gateway airport, each day.
AoT, the state agency that operates the country's six main airports including Suvarnabhumi, said international passenger numbers have taken a plunge.
But domestic volume, boosted by flights being transferred from the inundated Don Mueang airport, which was closed on Oct 25, is holding steady.
An AoT official said passenger traffic through Suvarnabhumi was not affected last month, but a clear setback from the floods would definitely be felt this month.
AoT and government officials are working around the clock to protect Suvarnabhumi from the massive flooding that has touched 64 of Thailand's 77 provinces.
The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department now pegs the death toll from the disaster at 527.
Source: Boonsong Kositchotethana, Bangkok Post, 9th November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 9th November, 2011
Water levels in key waterways near Suvarnabhumi Airport
The level in Lat Krabang Canal north of the airport has increased by 2 centimetres, and a branch of it in the south by 4cm. The level at the nearby Lat Krabang watergate has increased by 3cm, and at Prawet Burirom watergate by 3cm, senior airport official Suk Phuengtham said.
Airport director Somchai Sawasdiphol said the situation was under control, as the flood water surrounding the compound was between 40cm and 67cm, while the flood barriers were 3.5 metres high.
The military has repeated its pledge to defend the Bang Chan and Lat Krabang industrial estates from encroaching floods. Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha said there was time left for the military to do their best. "These are two estates that have so far survived the floods. If we fail again here, we have failed right across the board," he said.
Engineering Institute of Thailand chief Thanes Weerasiri said Bang Chan was not protected by a surrounding flood barrier as Bang Chan Canal runs through it.
"The best way to deal with flooding is to let the water flow as fast and in as much quantity as we can," he said.
Each factory is protected by individual floodwalls of two metres high on average. Requests for water pumps have been made to the city administration.
"I cannot give a 100-per-cent guarantee that the Bang Chan estate will escape the flood waters," Thanes added.
A section of the Western Outer Ring Road is being cleared of flood water so as to link to Route 340 and provide an alternative to Rama II Road for journeys to the South. Transport Ministry permanent secretary Suphoj Samlom said cutting a flood channel through Rama II Road would be useless and deprive drivers of a viable route to the South.
Source: The Nation, 9th November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 7th November, 2011
Suvarnabhumi Airport dry, images misleading
Images of a Thai Airways International Airbus stranded in deep floodwater at Don Mueang airport have caused misconceptions among many people outside Thailand that Bangkok is closed to air traffic.
That has frustrated both airlines and the management of Suvarnabhumi Airport, the country's gateway, where it is business as usual and flood prevention defences are said to be very strong.
They point fingers at the media, particularly international news outlets, which have made insufficient effort to tell their audiences that Thailand has two airports and that the main one is still functioning normally.
"As long as [the media] flash images of planes stranded at Don Mueang, and don't clearly state that the main airport, Suvarnabhumi, is functioning, then we will see more and more visitors shying away, adding insult to injury," said Somchai Sawasdeepon, senior executive vice-president of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT).
Executives of Centara Hotels & Resorts, one of Thailand's largest hospitality operators, agreed that most people outside Thailand were not aware that the flooding affected only Don Mueang. However, they said that Asian tourists were already shifting to other countries and European tourists were postponing trips to unaffected areas including Phuket, Samui, Krabi and Chiang Mai.
They complained that the government, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports were not doing enough to dispel the misconception.
Mr Somchai, also the acting general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, reaffirmed his confidence that the main airport was capable of dealing with floods, though he believed the likelihood of water reaching Suvarnabhumi was low.
He took journalists to inspect the flood prevention facilities at the airport on Friday. However, many photographers chose positions that resulted in images of aircraft approaching and taking off above the reservoir adjacent to the airport. Those pictures were widely circulated over the weekend.
There are 3.5-metre-high polder dykes surrounding the airport. Construction of the dykes started in 1995 and was completed in 2000, which has made them very strong and capable of preventing the penetration of water.
Last week, the Department of Highways drilled the dykes to test their strength and found them to be highly secure and very capable of preventing water from the outside, if the water level is less than 3.5 metres high, he noted.
Furthermore, Mr Somchai said Suvarnabhumi had a high-standard water-management system, with drainage canals all around the site to drain water into the reservoirs, which have capacity to store 4 million cubic metres of water _ four times the volume they contain now.
There are two main pump stations, each equipped with four water pumps, with ability to drain water at a rate of 12 cubic metres per second or 1 million cubic metres per day.
Also, the flood-prevention dykes have made the airport a closed area, whereby water cannot flow in from the outside.
Therefore, the possibility of water leaking through drainage pipes, which has happened in many other places, is extremely remote as the pipes within Suvarnabhumi Airport are not connected to outside pipes.
As well, travel to and from the airport is unaffected as the roads and the Airport Rail Link tracks are elevated above the dykes.
Source: Bangkok Post, Boonsong Kositchotethana, 7th November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 4th November, 2011
Suvarnabhumi Airport safe from floods
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is expected to stay dry during the worst floods in five decades that are now creeping towards the capital's centre, the airport's management said Friday.
"I am confident that we can keep Suvarnabhumi dry," said Somchai Sawasdeepon, acting general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, 20 kilometres east of the city centre, which has served as the main international airport for Bangkok since 2006.
The capital’s old airport, Don Mueang, 15 kilometres north of the centre, and now used only for some domestic flights, has been closed for weeks with its runway currently under a metre of water.
Bangkok’s north and north-east suburbs have been inundated by runoff from Thailand’s central plains which were flooded by the swollen Chao Phraya River last month.
The water is seeping through Bangkok en route to the Gulf of Thailand, with government authorities trying desperately to keep the inundation out of the centre of the capital by diverting the flow to the east and west of the metropolis.
"Our water management system at Suvarnabhumi is separate from Bangkok’s, so we can control it," Somchai said.
The airport is protected by 3.5-metre dyke surrounding the complex, which also includes a system of drainage canals and reservoirs with a storage capacity of 4 million cubic metres.
The reservoirs’ current level is 1 million cubic metres, Somchai said. The airport is connected to Bangkok by elevated roads and a train track.
Somchai said that passenger traffic at Suvarnabhumi Airport had increased 10 per cent in October, boosted mainly by a 14.5 per cent jump in domestic traffic as Bangkokians fled the city.
International passengers were up 3.5 per cent, but started to fall off in late October.
"After October 24, arrivals from some Asian markets such as China, Japan and India started to decline," Somchai said.
Thailand has set a target of 19 million tourist arrivals this year, but is now unlikely to achieve this as a result of the floods, which have claimed 437 lives over the past three months and caused billions of dollars in damage.
During the first nine months, some 14.4 million foreign tourists visited Thailand, up 27 per cent year-on-year, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre, a private think tank.
Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur, 4th November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 3rd November, 2011
Mor Chit bus terminal may relocate to Suvarnabhumi Airport
Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal at Mor Chit might be relocated to Suvarnabhumi airport if it is flooded, Transport Company managing director Wutichart Kanlayanamit said on Thursday.
The situation was still being assessed, he said. A close watch would be kept this evening.
If the flooding severely affected the bus terminal's daily operation, a contingency evacuation and relocation plan was in place.
‘’We have looked at alternative sites, including Suvarnabhumi airport, for the relocation of Mor Chit if it is heavily flooded,’’ Mr Wutichart said.
The final decision to move, if needed, would be based on location and facilities to ensure good service and convenience for travellers.
The surging floodwater has inundated some roads leading to Mor Chit, causing problems for travellers trying to reach the terminal.
Any decision to relocate would take about half a day to implement, Mr Wutichart said.
The Transport Co earlier relocated the flooded Southern Bus Terminal, Sai Tai Mai, to Holland Brewery on Rama II Road. Many passengers have complained that the place is too small and lacks toilet facilities.
Source: Bangkok Post, 3rd November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 2nd November, 2011
Airport officials 'highly confident' barriers will keep flood water at bay
Suvarnabhumi Airport is "highly confident" its flood-prevention scheme - with its 3.5-metre-high, 37-metre-wide earth dyke and sheet piles - will be effective.
Airports of Thailand senior executive vice-president Somchai Sawasdeepon said the airport also has a team of officers to monitor water levels at six flood gates, including Lat Krabang, Saen Saeb and Samrong. Airlines at the airport are being notified of water levels every three hours to ensure smooth aviation operations in Thailand despite the flooding in Don Mueang Airport.
On Monday, the airport accommodated 945 flights, a new daily record since its opening.
Somchai yesterday briefed Japanese experts - brought in by the Japan International Credit Agency (JICA) which funded the airport's construction - on the flood defences, including its cooperation with agencies like the Highways Department and the Royal Irrigation Department.
The team of Japanese experts also received a briefing from the Flood Relief Operations Centre as well as Bangkok Metro, the subway operator.
The airport has prepared giant pumps with a capacity to pump 1 million cubic metres of water per day, as well as other protective materials.
The airport is also reducing water levels in floodways around the airport to only 25 per cent of their capacity.
"Experts from Singapore and Germany have inspected our protection system and also the materials we have used to lower water levels," said Somchai.
Somchai added that canals around Suvarnabhumi, including those in Lat Krabang, Bang Chalong and Nong Ngu Hao, were dredged before the construction of the airport.
A sewer under the Bang Na-Trat highway has been dredged to allow water from Prawet Burirom canal to be drained into the Samrong canal, Somchai said.
Somchai said a new canal for draining flood water around the airport has been dug with the capacity to drain 100 cubic metres of water per second.
"The new drainage canal increases the capacity of water draining and I believe we will have no problems of flooding at the airport. The water will be drained eastwards via Prince Chaiyanuchit canal," Somchai pointed out.
He said the airport would not be affected by high sea tides because it is ten kilometres from the coast.
However, he was worried about overflowing flood water from Saen Saeb canal into Prawet Burirom canal because the airport is only 1 km away from Prawet Burirom canal.
He said if flood water overflowed from Prawet Burirom canal, it would move to the northern side of the airport. Nevertheless, the flood water would be blocked by the flood barriers at the airport, which include a 3.5-metre-high embankment.
"If the overflowing floodwater is not higher than 1 metre, I believe our 3.5-metre-high embankment can prevent it from entering the airport," Somchai said.
Meanwhile, Oriental Thai Airlines Chief Executive Officer Manasnan Tantiprasongchai said 9-10 parked aircraft are under water at Don Mueang Airport. Most are MD aircraft and all are waiting to be sold.
She said not all the aircraft have been damaged by flood water, which has entered only some of the planes.
"We parked the aircraft there more than a month ago and we'll not move them out as there's no place to park them. It's also costly going in for relocation," she said.
She added that Oriental Thai operates eight aircraft at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Six aircraft are being utilised for domestic services and the other two for international services.
Source: The Nation, 2nd November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 1st November, 2011
Suvarnabhumi Airport ready for floods
Suvarnabhumi Airport places high confidence in its flood-prevention scheme, with the 3.5-metre-high and 37-metre wide earthern dyke and sheet piles to slow the currents as well as other preventive measures.
Airports of Thailand Senior Executive Vice President Somchai Sawasdeepon said that the airport also has a team of officers to monitor water levels at six flood gates including Lat Krabang, Saen Saeb and Samrong. Airlines operating at the airport are notified of water level every three hours, to ensure smooth aviation operations in Thailand despite the flooding in Don Mueang Airport.
Yesterday, the airport accommodated 945 flights, a new daily record since the opening.
Somchai yesterday briefed Japanese experts, brought in by Japan International Credit Agency which funded the airport’s construction, on the preparation steps. JICA’s experts were informed about the airport’s cooperation with all related agencies like the Highways Department and the Royal Irrigation Department.
The team of Japanese experts also received a briefing from the Flood Relief Operations Centre as well as Bangkok Metro Plc, the subway operator.
Source: The Nation, 1st November, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 31st October, 2011
Thailand is now safe to visit: envoy
ABU DHABI // Thailand's ambassador has insisted it is safe to visit his country, despite a UAE government warning to the contrary.
Somchai Charanasomboon's comments come after the Chao Phraya river, Bangkok's main waterway, burst its banks on Saturday, inundating several city suburbs and the domestic airport.
The country's worst floods in almost 60 years have killed 381 people since July, and wiped out a quarter of its rice crop.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned citizens against travel to Thailand. Mr Charanasomboon said the warning had been issued after a "telex" from the UAE embassy in Bangkok.
However, he said: "I insist that Bangkok is still safe, especially for people who are travelling to Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
"The airport we see in the news is the domestic airport, and all those flights have been moved to the other one."
He added that travel to most other parts of Thailand was also safe.
"If they want to travel to other cities like Chiang Mai or Phuket, it's very easy to take domestic flights," he said.
Comchai Sukkhasantikul, the general manager of Thai Airways in Dubai, said many travellers had cancelled their tickets due to a perception that the flooding continued.
"We've seen 150 passenger cancellations between October 24 to the 26, which was the time when there was the worst flood. But it was also around the same time the Foreign Ministry issued their warning against travel to Thailand, because most of our passengers are Emirati," said Mr Sukkhasantikul.
Thailand is an increasingly popular destination for Emiratis, many of whom visit for tourism - including medical tourism.
According to Mr Charanasomboon, the number of Emiratis travelling to Thailand has increased by 30 per cent in the past year. In 2010, he said, more than 140,000 Emiratis visited Thailand, mostly for medical treatment. "There is no problem for people going to Thailand to get operations. It is still going on extensively."
Mr Charanasomboon said that despite the floods he was still receiving many requests from Emiratis for 90-day extensions on their 30-day visas upon arrival.
"They like Thailand very much. One reason is for medical purposes. But they also like it because Thai people are so friendly. In Thailand we live in peace."
Simon D'Mello, the managing director of Dubai Leisure Holidays, said he had not seen a large drop in sales of tickets to Thailand.
"The travel warning has affected our business, but not much," he said. "Middle-class passengers will go if they want to go, no matter what - it is more the high-class passengers who are postponing flights."
An official from an Abu Dhabi travel agency connected to Thai Airways also confirmed that numbers had not been greatly affected.
"The government has announced that it's not safe to travel to Thailand, but our flights haven't stopped," said the employee, who asked not to be named.
The ambassador said his government expected the flooding to be over in four to six weeks, and it would soon release a three-phase relief and recovery plan.
It is expected to comprise comprehensive infrastructure rehabilitation, including the removal and transportation of excess material, the construction of water dykes, the provision of temporary shelter for flood victims and the installation of water pumps.
"The water in some parts is not safe, so we have to improve our water quality to prevent pandemic diseases and to reduce the possibility of critical conditions," he said.
Much of Bangkok is under water, including popular tourist sites such as the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
"The plan is also to restore the damage of our historical sites. The German government has already offered to help us," said Mr Charanasomboon.
He also hopes the UAE government will contribute, and spoke yesterday to Ahmed Abdullah Al Musalli, the director of Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about financial aid.
"[Mr Al Musalli] told me that the [UAE] embassy in Bangkok has submitted a recommendation to the UAE government to send help to Thailand," he said. "The UAE is normally very generous. If they will give any assistance, we will be happy for it."
The Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, issued a statement on Saturday saying the receeding floods north of Bangkok had reduced the threat to the city.
No one at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs could be reached for comment, and a spokesman at the UAE Embassy in Bangkok declined to comment.
Source: The National, Marie-Louise Olson, 31st October, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 31st October, 2011
Qantas announces new flights from Bangkok
Australian airline, Qantas has announced that passengers who have been stranded in Thailand's flood-stricken capital, Bangkok will be flown out on a Qantas flight to Sydney on Monday night.
About 50 of the 300 passengers on flight QF2 from London, which landed in Bangkok on Saturday and went no further, were still waiting for flights out of the Thai capital.
The remaining passengers were expected to leave for Sydney on Monday night on a Qantas jet at 5.50pm.
The other passengers have already left the city via other airlines.
Qantas flight 1 was also expected to depart Bangkok at a 12.45pm on Tuesday morning, bound for London.
All passengers who were affected by the cancellation of Saturday's flight have already flown out on alternative carriers.
Bangkok remains under a travel warning due to flooding surrounding the city but flights leaving the main Suvarnabhumi International Airport have been unaffected.
Source: Australian Network News, Zoe Daniel,31st October, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 30th October, 2011
Suvarnabhumi Airport sure it can remain dry
Suvarnabhumi airport authorities are confident they can handle the flood crisis but a team of Japanese safety experts remains concerned about its power supply sustainability, which is key to flood drainage.
Wing Cdr Suk Puangthum, Suvarnabhumi airport's deputy general manager for maintenance, was confident that its 23.5km-long dyke could keep water out of the 32 sq km airport area.
The dyke has been increased in height to 3.5m above mean sea level from the previous level of 3m, Wing Cdr Suk said.
The canal outside was now only 0.8 metres above sea level.
He added there were two reservoirs, each only at 25% of its full capacity of 4 million cubic metres.
Senior airport technicians briefed two senior Japanese officials _ Michio Higashijima, director of international affairs for airport planning and construction at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and Norifumi Yoshida, chief of airport engineering for the MLIT Civil Aviation Bureau _ who flew in from Japan to support flood-prevention efforts. They were also taken on an inspection tour.
The Japanese embassy's economic minister, Masato Otaka, said the Thai government had asked the two experts to look at how the airport could cope with the floods.
The experts told reporters after the two-hour briefing and inspection of Suvarnabhumi airport's pumping stations, reservoirs and power stations that authorities were well prepared, but the flood crisis was not something that could be precisely predicted. They needed more time to study the details, and particularly the blueprint of the airport layout.
Asked if they were concerned about the internal power supply, the experts said the airport's strategic flood-prevention system was the dyke, and any water trickling into the airport could be pumped out.
"If the electrical control centres malfunction due to water leaking into the system and the pumps cannot get rid of the water fast enough, the power supply might be affected," they said.
Amnuay Sarachart, Suvarnabhumi's vice-president in charge of the electrical and mechanical department, said the airport has been given the same priority as Siriraj Hospital, where His Majesty the King is staying.
Executive vice-president and deputy general manager Narongchai Tanadchangsaeng said the dyke would make the airport an island when there is flooding. However, he conceded that if water levels top the dyke, there would be damage.
Meanwhile, railway experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency's disaster relief team advised the Mass Rapid Transit network (MRT) to focus on four aspects in defending the subway system.
Tokyo Metro's Yoshio Otsuki and Masamichi Ono said the MRT should pay attention to the station entrances, air vents, train tracks and connections to buildings.
After seeing the MRT's defence system, they were confident the stations could withstand floods.
Ronnachit Yaemsa-ard, MRT's deputy governor for operations, said the agency installed floodboards in risk zones and closed some entrances in the red zones.
Mr Ronnachit said the floodboards were designed to withstand floods of up to 3.5m above sea level. The government predicts a maximum level of 1.75-2m. The air vents are not a concern since they are five metres above street level, he said.
Source: Bangkok Post, Achara Ashayagachat & Pakawat Sunpituksaree ,30th October, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 28th October, 2011
Nok Air announces to add flights to 6 more provinces operated from Suvarnabhumi Airport during the period that Don Mueang Airport is closed due to the flood crisis.
Nok Air will add 6 more destinations operated in and out Suvarnabhumi Airport, from 28 October – 10 November 2011. These are Sakon Nakhon, Nan, Phrae, Roi Et, Mae Sot and Loei. These are in addition to the previously announced 9 destinations being operated out of Suvarnabhumi as of yesterday - Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Phuket and Hat Yai. Nok Air is now serving its passengers to 15 destinations from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Nok Air passengers who receive traveling confirmation from Nok Air will be able to check-in at row D, Departures (4th Floor), Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Nok Air is sincerely sorry for the inconvenience any of these changes may have caused
For more information please visit www.nokair.com
Source:Press Release - www.thailand4.com ,28th October, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 28th October, 2011
THAI opens check-in services at Makkasan Station
Thai Airways International provides additional check-in counters at the Airport Rail Link, Makkasan Station to facilitate passengers travelling to Suvarnabhumi Airport during flooding situation.
Danuj Bunnag, THAI's Managing Director, Ground Services Business Unit, said "Passengers may find it difficult to travel to Suvarnabhumi Airport due to floods in some areas of Bangkok. To help facilitate THAI's passengers travelling on both domestic and international routes, THAI set up additional check-in counters at the Airport Rail Link, Makkasan Station."
THAI's passenger travelling to Suvarnabhumi Airport by Airport Rail Link may check-in their luggage and personal belongings at THAI's check-in counters, located on the third floor of the station, starting today from 7am until 9pm everyday.
The Airport Rail Link check-in service is open for all THAI's flights departing Suvarnabhumi Airport between 10am-1.20am. Passengers must check-in by themselves 3 hours prior to flight departure and receive their boarding pass and luggage tags. This is with the exception of passengers travelling to the US, on the route Bangkok - Los Angeles, who must check-in at Suvarnabhumi Airport only.
Source: The Nation, 28th October, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 15th September, 2011
Lower fares on way for Airport Link
The Transport Ministry will encourage commuters to use the loss-making Airport Rail Link between Suvarnabhumi airport and inner Bangkok by deploying more taxis at its inner Bangkok terminal. It will also increase the frequency of commuter trains on the link, and cut fares.
Wan Yubamrung, secretary to Deputy Transport Minister Kittisakdi Hathasongkorh, said an insufficient number of taxis at the Makkasan terminal during rush hours was limiting the popularity of the Airport Rail Link. The limited taxi services were the result of some influential parties demanding money from taxi drivers who wanted to pick up passengers at the Makkasan terminal.
Mr Wan, who has been appointed Airport Link Ambassador and assigned by Mr Kittisakdi to promote the Airport Rail Link, vowed to end the illicit business at the Makkasan terminal in a week. Mr Wan said he would request 20 Bangkok taxi cooperatives to send their drivers to the Makkasan terminal during peak hours.
Mr Wan also promised to improve road access to the Makkasan terminal. He said a traffic island installed by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration was blocking access from Ratchadaphisek Road. Railway authorities will ask City Hall to remove it.
Small shuttle bus services would be provided to carry commuters between the Makkasan terminal and the subway station on nearby Phetchaburi Road, pending construction of an elevated walkway between both stations.
A source said the Transport Ministry may shorten commuter train wait time on the Airport Rail Link from 15 to 10 minutes, and cut fares from 15-45 baht to a 20-baht flat rate to make the service more attractive.
Source: Amornrat Mahitthirook. Bangkok Post,15th September, 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 25th January, 2011
Airport Noise - Victims 'to get payouts mid-Nov'
People affected by noise pollution as a result of Suvarnabhumi airport will receive damages by mid-November at the latest, a senior transport official says.
Permanent secretary for transport Supoj Saplom promised the payments after chairing a meeting yesterday attended by transport officials, Airports of Thailand (AoT) representatives and some of the damaged parties.
Mr Supoj said afterwards all parties agreed that 6,000 people affected by the noise pollution during the summer flight schedules would receive compensation within 30 days if they could present evidence of their property ownership tomorrow to AoT staff. The state has allocated about 6 billion baht for the compensation.
Mr Supoj said he had instructed the AoT to finish the compensation process by mid-November at the latest for about 6,400 people affected by noise pollution during winter flights. The government has prepared 4.08 billion baht to pay them damages.
The AoT will later study the cases of other groups of affected people including those who moved to the area after 2001, when the plan to build Suvarnabhumi airport was made public, and those who would be affected by any expansion of the airport.
The AoT will seek a cabinet ruling whether to pay compensation to people who must relocate.
The airport operator has been asked to pay 100,000 baht to each relocated family.
Mr Supoj said the overall compensation should be no more than 12 billion baht. The cabinet has allocated 11.233 billion baht to cover the payments.
Source: Bangkok Post, Amornrat Mahitthirook, 25th January 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 19th January, 2011
AoT staff scuttle car park fee grab
Airports of Thailand staff have prevented former car park staff from trying to resume the collection of parking fees at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum quoted AoT president Serirat Prasutanond as saying Parking Management Co executive Thanakrit Jetkittichok turned up at one of the car parks yesterday with a lawyer and a group of people and tried to reclaim the fee collection booths.
The minister said Mr Thanakrit arrived with an injunction from the Civil Court preventing anyone else from operating the parking service.
AoT security staff and local police prevented the group from entering the building and would submit an appeal against the court order today.
The minister said there was no violence during the confrontation.
Mr Thanakrit said he went to the airport with between 50 and 60 police and company staff armed with the written injunction from the Civil Court and asked for the AoT's cooperation.
He said the court had carefully considered his complaint, which was backed by information on past meetings of the AoT board.
An AoT source said the operator told the court it had the right to collect parking fees in accordance with its parking building contract and it wanted to protect the computers it had installed in the building.
The source said AoT had terminated its contract with Parking Management after the company failed to share the parking revenues with the airport operator.
AoT had stored the company's computers pending their return and was running the car parks with its own equipment, the source said.
Visitors to the airport yesterday had no problem accessing the car parks during the confrontation.
Source: Bangkok Post, Amornrat Mahitthirook, 19th January 2011
NEWS UPDATE... 3rd January, 2011
Airport Rail Link to Begin Full Operation Tomorrow
After running commercial services for Bangkok commuters since August of last year, the Airport Rail Link is scheduled to begin full operations TOMORROW.
The State Railway of Thailand, or SRT, has voiced confidence that the Airport Rail Link project, which transports travelers and commuters between central Bangkok and the Suvarnabhumi Airport is ready for full operations beginning TOMORROW.
On its first day, a luggage check-in system at Makkasan city air terminal delivering luggage directly to the airport will be available for travelers. For those who seek to check in and transport their luggage to the airport can do so 3 to 13 hours prior to their boarding time.
During the first stage, however, the service is available only for express line users, who are flying Thai International and Bangkok Airways. About rail fares, express line users will be charged 150 baht for non-stop service from Makkasan terminal to the Airport and city line users will be charged between 15 and 45 baht based on distance. The services will be available from 6 AM to midnight everyday.
Earlier, Transport Ministry Permanent Secretary Supoj Sublhom ordered authorities to speed up construction and equipment installation and have it finished as scheduled by TOMORROW. In a related development, a skywalk connecting Makkasan terminal to the Petchburi underground Station is under construction and is expected to be finished Midyear.
Source: Thai Asean News Network
NEWS UPDATE... 19th December, 2010
Makkasan Station Check in services on 4th January
Suvarnabhumi Rail Link will begin check-in services for Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways & Lufthansa, at Makkasan Station on 4th January.....More News to Follow
Source: SRT via MCOT
NEWS UPDATE... 7th September, 2010
YouTube Video - Rail Link between Suvarnabhumi Airport & Bangkok City
NEWS UPDATE... 23rd August, 2010
Airport Rail Link begins full commercial operations
The Airport Link connecting downtown Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport began its first day of commercial services on Monday, with trains now running from 6am to midnight.
Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum said the Airport Link can carry up to 50,000 passengers a day, generating revenue of one million baht a day.
"I believe this rail link will help ease traffic, lower pollution and make it easier for the public," Mr Sohpon said.
The Airport Link's City Line will run every 15 minutes and the Express Line every 30 minutes. Both lines operate from 6am to midnight.
The trains have a maximum speed of 160 kilometres per hour.
The City Line will make eight stops across the capital, starting at Phaya Thai, before heading to the airport. The trains take 30 minutes from Phaya Thai to Suvarnabhumi. Passengers using the City Line pay a flat rate of 15 baht for a trip during the promotion period. Fares will range from 15 baht to 45 baht, depending on the distance travelled, after Jan 1, 2011.
The Express Line is a 15-minute non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip. However, the fare will be raised to 150 baht after the check-in system are fully set up at Makkasan station.
The Airport Link's luggage service is not fully set up yet. The State Railway of Thailand expected it to be operational before the end of this year. People with many bags may have some difficulties during the check-in process.
The service has been operating on a trial basis since June 1, attracting about 17,000 people a day travelling for free.
The construction of the project began in June 2004, with the completion date set for May 2009 for launch in August 2009.
Several factors caused the long delay, including flood at the construction site, the State Railway of Thailand's failure to deliver land to contractor and power supply problems.
For further information about Airport Rail Link service, call the State Railway of Thailand hotline at 1690.
Source: Bangkok Post:Online News, Transport 23/08/2010
NEWS UPDATE... 23rd August, 2010
SRT: Airport Link ready for business
The Airport Link connecting Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport is 100 per cent ready for the first day of commercial services, State Railway of Thailand governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said on Sunday.
"The stations, the rails and the overall train system are ready for service. The Airport Link will run from 6am to midnight," Mr Yuthana said.
The City Line will make eight stops across the capital starting from Phayathai before heading to the airport. Its fares start at 15 baht.
The Express Service is a non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip. However, the fare will be raised to 150 baht after the check-in system are fully set up at Makkasan station.
The Airport Link is expected to cater for 15,000 to 50,000 passengers a day.
"Independent safety and system certification engineers (ICE) have issued a certificate standard for the trains, while security personnel and police are overseeing order and security in each station," the SRT chief said.
Source: Bangkok Post:Online News 22/08/2010
NEWS UPDATE... 22nd August, 2010
Airport Link begins commercial operation Monday
BANGKOK, Aug 22 -- After long delays in construction and several test runs, Suvarnabhumi airport's Airport Link begins commercial services Monday with special discount fares offered until the end of 2010, shortening travel times for inbound and outbound air travellers as well as easing arrivals and departures compared to existing airport transport.
From Monday onward, arriving and departing passengers as well as relatives or friends seeing them off from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, in Bangkok's adjacent province of Samut Prakan, will save significant time in travelling as the Airport Rail Link project, linking the airport and the Makkasan and Phaya Thai areas in downtown Bangkok, commences operations.
To ensure smooth operations, State Railways of Thailand (SRT) Governor, Yutthana Thapcharoen, inspected trains and other facilities whose construction began in mid-2005, for he wanted to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
The 28km rail link connects Suvarnabhumi Airport in the eastern flank of the capital and the City Air Terminal in Bangkok's Makkasan area, where passengers are able to check in their baggage.
With the speed capacity of 160km per hour, the train will serve eight stations and can cater up to 50,000 passengers daily.
City Line commuter trips, with set fares at Bt30, take 30 minutes to reach the airport and will operate 24 hours from Phaya Thai station. Trains pass through six stations.
The Express Service operates 19 hours daily from 6am to 1am and provides a non-stop journey between the City Terminal and the airport with the promotional fare set at Bt100.
SRT plans to establish a subsidiary firm to administer the Airport Link and will seek Cabinet approval through the Transport Ministry by raising registered capital to Bt2 billion from Bt500 million. (MCOT online news)
Source: BANGKOK, 22nd August 2010, MCOT online news
NEWS UPDATE... 18th August, 2010
Airport Link opens Monday
The airport rail link is scheduled to open for full commercial operations on Monday, the State Railway of Thailand says.
SRT governor Yutthana Tapcharoen yesterday said the rail operations would be divided into ordinary and express services.
The airport rail link is scheduled to open for full commercial operations on Monday, the State Railway of Thailand says.
SRT governor Yutthana Tapcharoen yesterday said the rail operations would be divided into ordinary and express services.
The ordinary service, known as the city line, would charge a fare of 15 baht and would make eight stops along the Phaya Thai-Suvarnabhumi airport route.
The express line would run non-stop from Makkasan to the airport and would charge 100 baht.
He said both services would run from 6am to midnight with a train leaving every 15 minutes.
Baggage check-in at Makkasan station was not available yet as the line was still being test-run, Mr Yutthana said.
He said the check-in service was expected to be available later this year.
The Airport Rail Link is now operating free of charge from 6am to 10am and from 4pm to 9pm.
Source: BANGKOK, 18th August 2010, Bangkok Post, News
NEWS UPDATE... 17th August, 2010
Airport Link to open for business
The Airport Link connecting Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport will begin commercial services next Monday, State Railway of Thailand governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said on Tuesday.
Mr Yuthana said the Airport Link's Express Service and City Line systems will run every 15 minutes from 6am to midnight.
The City Line will make eight stops across the capital starting from Phayathai before heading to the airport. Its fares start at 15 baht.
The Express Service is a non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip.
The baggage handling system at Makkasan station was still in a testing period but should be operational before the end of this year. People with many bags may have some difficulties during the check-in process, the SRT chief said.
Source: BANGKOK, 17th August 2010, Bangkok Post, Breaking News
NEWS UPDATE... 10th August, 2010
Thailand ready for rail talks with China
BANGKOK, August 10 - Thailand and China are expected to open talks this month on plans to jointly invest in Thailand's new standard-gauge rail link and high-speed train projects
A panel chaired by Korbsak Sabhavasu, secretary-general to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, yesterday set up two subcommittees to work out a feasibility study for the projects.
The Thai government wants to invest jointly with China in a high-speed rail line from Suvarnabhumi airport to Rayong on the Eastern Seaboard through Pattaya and Laem Chabang, and a standard-gauge link from China through Vietnam, Laos and Nong Khai in Thailand's northeast to connect with Malaysia and Singapore.
A new standard-gauge rail line from Nong Khai to the southern border with Malaysia is expected to cost 300 billion baht.
The line would link at Nong Khai to a line China plans to build through Vietnam and Laos.
Mr Korbsak said the high-speed rail project linking Suvarnabhumi and Rayong was estimated to cost 30 billion baht.
He said the two subcommittees were required to complete their studies in two weeks.
Officials from the two countries are required to complete a draft memorandum of understanding ahead of Mr Abhisit's visit to China scheduled for early next month.
The new rail line would benefit travel through the region as the train network is expected to be built from Kunming through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia to connect with Singapore.
The tourism industry would benefit greatly from the new network, Mr Korbsak said.
He said the 1,000-kilometre line in Thailand would be developed along the existing State Railway of Thailand track and would take about three years to build.
Trains on the new line would run at 200 kilometres an hour compared with the SRT average of 60km/h.
The investment is in addition to 170billion baht earmarked for upgrading the SRT's services and the speed of its trains, Mr Korbsak said.
The SRT project is aimed at improving safety standards and increasing speeds on its one metre-gauge lines to between 80km/h and 100km/h from the present 60km/h.
Mr Korbsak said a feasibility study for the high-speed train from Bangkok to Rayong would go ahead even if Thailand failed to sign a deal with China.
Source: BANGKOK, 10th August 2010 (Chatrudee Theparat, Bangkok Post, Business)
NEWS UPDATE... 9th August 2010
Airport Link a Potential Tourism Bonanza
The long-awaited opening of the Airport Rail Link on Aug 23 will substantially enhance the convenience of visiting Bangkok but a number of critical missing links impede connectivity with the city's mass-transit systems.
Hotels in the vicinity of the Rail Link stations and terminals at Phya Thai, Rajaprarop and Makkasan will gain a significant competitive advantage, especially in the Rajadamri area, as well as those along Phetchaburi, Asok and Rachadaphisek roads.
Providing easy access right under the Suvarnabhumi terminal, the Rail Link is smooth and efficient. The cars are spacious with plenty of room for luggage. Visitors will also enjoy panoramic views of Bangkok, including greenery, housing estates, temples, mosques, malls and office towers.
But at least three problems will impede what would otherwise have been a seamless flow of passengers between the Rail Link, the BTS SkyTrain and the MRT underground rail line as they commute from the airport to various destinations, and vice versa:
- The BTS-Rail Link interchange at Phya Thai: There is no escalator down from the BTS station to the level of the connecting walkway to the Rail Link station. The existing escalator only goes up. Those going down must use steps, a problem if one has luggage. There are no luggage trolleys at the station either. Besides, a small part of the walkway from the SkyTrain station to the Rail Link station is being built but is projected to be completed by the launch date.
- The MRT-Rail Link connection at Makkasan: This should have been possible from the Makkasan terminal to the Phetchaburi MRT station, but it does not exist. An MRT executive said a walkway was awaiting approval, and would take three months to build once approved. Hence, those getting off at the Makkasan Rail Link terminal cannot access the Phetchaburi MRT station.
- Lack of a single commuter ticket between the airport Rail Link, the SkyTrain and the MRT is the biggest obstacle. Arriving visitors heading for say, the Hua Lamphong rail terminal, will have to first buy the Rail Link ticket, then a SkyTrain ticket and then an MRT ticket separately at each interchange.
Surapong Laoha-Unya, chief operating officer of the BTS SkyTrain, acknowledged that this has long been an issue, for both technical and administrative reasons. Not only are the ticketing technologies entirely different, but one company (BTS) is private while the other is a quasi-public organisation, which means two entirely different mindsets, procedures and systems.
Mr Surapong said a common ticket between the SkyTrain and the MRT had been in the works for three to four years. Now that the Rail Link is due to open, there is a new sense of urgency and a solution is expected sometime next year.
After the Rail Link is officially opens, tickets will cost only 15 baht per trip per person until the end of 2010. The system is expected to lose money for years, although some of the cost may be offset by advertising in rail cars and stations, especially at the airport and Makkasan.
Once these issues are sorted out, however, the benefits for Bangkok's tourism industry will be phenomenal. Mr Surapong said the BTS, which opened in 1999, was well aware of the tourism advantage and projects clear increases in ridership after the Rail Link opens.
He noted that visitors had benefited from thousands of discounted BTS passes sold to the tourism sector between 2002 and July 2010, including 342,152 sold to hotels along the SkyTrain routes, 568,968 to tour operators and 93,025 to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau. In 2009, sales to tour operators totalled 81,244 passes, hotels 45,415 and the TAT and TCEB 18,000 passes.
Mr Surapong said the Rail Link would also help boost sales of the SkyTrain's one-day pass which costs only 120 baht and can be used for unlimited trips to tourist spots along BTS routes.
"Visitors with little time to spare don't like sitting in traffic," he said. "The Rail Link will help all the mass-transit systems boost sales, especially to the growing numbers of visitors from new markets such as India."
Writer: Imtiaz Muqbil is executive editor of Travel Impact Newswire, an e-mailed feature and analysis service focusing on the Asia-Pacific travel industry.
Source: BangkokPost(Business Section), 9th August,2010