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What Is Wrong With BKK?

Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:51 pm

Title : Thailand's problem-plagued airport delays ceremony: reports
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Date : 19 November 2006 1725 hrs (SST)

BANGKOK: Thailand would delay a ceremony at Bangkok's new international airport due to problems including cracked taxiways, inadequate toilets and complaints of sexual harassment, reports have said.

Thailand was to hold a formal inauguration ceremony this month of Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which opened in late September, with an annual passenger capacity of 45 million.

But the ceremony, to be attended by Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, would be delayed at least six months due to multiple problems, the English-language Thai newspapers the Nation and Bangkok Post said.

The problems include long waits for luggage, hold-ups at check-in counters, roof leaks and inadequate toilets, the Nation said, adding "uneven and cracked taxiways" were also discovered at the new airport.

Residents near the airport, located 25 kilometres (15 miles) east of Bangkok, also complained of noise pollution, as Suvarnabhumi operated 24 hours a day.

Female staff at the airport have also reported to authorities they had been stalked by construction workers at night, the reports said.

Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, the second-most powerful man after Thailand's coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, told the Bangkok Post all problems must be solved within the six months, since the king would preside over the ceremony.

Chalit also urged Airports of Thailand Plc, which runs Suvarnabhumi, to improve safety measures before the International Civil Aviation Organization inspected the airport in June next year, the Bangkok Post reported.

The airport requires an aerodrome certificate from the UN aviation agency to permanently operate. Currently, it has an interim certificate.

Suvarnabhumi, which means "golden land" in the Thai language, opened against the backdrop of a bloodless coup on September 19 that ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

- AFP/so