Arkhom seeks aviation safety extension

Construction News

Prajin orders airport expansion hurried up

Thailand will plead with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for a one-month extension of the deadline from next month to July for it to solve its aviation safety problems.

Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith will lead the negotiations with the ICAO for the deadline extension when he meets the ICAO chairman on June 15 in Montreal, Canada, said Woradech Hanprasert, deputy permanent secretary for transport, Wednesday.

Currently, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) is required to correct the “significant safety concerns” uncovered by the ICAO in its previous inspection of the DCA by June 18.

Aside from their request to extend the deadline, Mr Arkhom and his team will also take the opportunity to try to persuade the ICAO during the visit that Thailand is determined to resolve the problem and the mission has made “great progress”, Mr Woradech said.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong has ordered a revision of the second phase of Suvarnabhumi airport’s planned expansion, to comply with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s instruction to speed up the airport’s expansion.

Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, president of the Airports of Thailand (AoT), said the board had decided to implement ACM Prajin’s instructions on the airport’s expansion.

He was speaking after Wednesday’s meeting of the AoT board.

Basically, the plan for the airport’s Phase II expansion would be revised to conform to the cabinet resolution reached on Aug 24, 2010, as instructed by ACM Prajin, Mr Nitinai said.

A major difference exists between the airport expansion plan approved in the 2010 cabinet resolution and the current plan that was given the go-ahead by the former board of the AoT.

The former board agreed to split the airport expansion into two periods while the 2010 cabinet decision was to carry out the expansion all in one go, Mr Nitinai said.

With the 2010 cabinet resolution adopted for implementation, the Phase II construction should begin in 2018 and be completed by 2020, he said.

The expansion requires a budget of about 61.7 billion baht, he said.

Gen Prayut told a cabinet meeting on March 31 the AoT would have to accelerate its master plan to develop Suvarnabhumi which includes a plan to construct a third runway, Mr Nitinai said.

The current AoT board, however, pointed out that an alternative runway that will be 2.9 kilometres long should be built while waiting for the results of an environmental health impact assessment survey on the third runway plan, he said.

“The board noted the alternative runway is necessary because the current two runways have been in use for more than a decade without a single closure to allow major maintenance of them,” he said.

The alternative runway would be needed if the current runways need to be shut for repair or if they suffer a problem leading to their abrupt closure, he said. An alternative runway would prevent disruption to flights.

The AoT also still had to wait for a revision of the AoT’s master plan for Suvarnabhumi to incorporate a plan for a new passenger terminal, Mr Nitinai said.