Suvarnabhumi airport general manager Somchai Sawasdeepon is insisting Thursday’s subsidence on the western runway was caused by normal wear and tear.
But airline managers yesterday questioned if the airfield had been built with proper civil engineering techniques and high-standard construction materials.
An area of 3,600 sq cm (60cm by 60cm) at the northern part of the western runway was found to have subsided by 5cm about 8pm on Thursday night.
The airport was closed for repairs about 8.30pm.
The subsidence caused delays for 200 take-offs and landings with the longest being one hour and 11 minutes.
It also forced 11 aircraft to divert to three other airports _ three to Don Mueang, seven to U-tapao and one to Chiang Mai, the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) said.
The western runway was reopened at 9pm when the repair work had been completed.
”It could be problems associated with the airport restructuring, technology adopted for construction and the quality of construction materials,” said a senior manager of an European airline, who asked to remain anonymous.
But Mr Somchai yesterday insisted the problem was due to heavy use of the western runway as the other runway, on the eastern side, has been closed for an overlay since June 11. The western runway is pending its first complete overlay since Suvarnabhumi opened in September 2006 and the AoT expects to carry out the work next year.
”There is wear and tear for an airport which has handled some 1.5 million flights,” Mr Somchai said, stressing the airport’s safety should not be put in doubt as the AoT has safety standards to maintain.
However, Thailand-based managers for international airlines said they were astonished by the large number of ”soft surface” problems.
Marisa Pongpattanapun, chairwoman of the Airline Operators Committee, a coalition of global airline managers at Suvarnabhumi, yesterday stopped short of criticising the airport’s quality, but urged the AoT to run thorough checks and see if anything else needs to be fixed to prevent problems recurring.
She urged the AoT to keep in mind the extra financial burden that airlines have to bear because of the glitches.