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AOT president feeling the heat

BackOct 05, 2006

Seven days have passed since Suvarnabhumi Airport was officially inaugurated and to date, Chotisak Asapaviriya, president of Airports of Thailand, looks like he has yet to grab a good night's sleep.

In an interview with The Nation yesterday, his eyes were red and he occasionally pasted balm on his forehead, apparently to clear his mind.

It is not surprising that he still doesn't look relaxed even through the airport's opening passed a week ago. The airport is still plagued with loud criticism over the lack of readiness.

Shipping companies yesterday complained about the delay in getting items out of the cargo areas. Some passengers still have to wait for an hour to retrieve their luggage.

Others have trouble checking in. Thai Airways International has had to tell its passengers who are boarding international flights to get to the airport three hours in advance. When Don Muang was in operation, they only needed two.

Another headache is traffic congestion inside the airport. The internal road network is over 30 kilometres in combined length. Thanks to glowing advertisements by AOT about the wonders of the new airport, gawkers are flocking to the terminal area and screwing up traffic.

Chotisak's headache turns into a migraine attack at the baying of passengers over the paucity of toilets. And that's nothing compared to the outrageous inconvenience of the parking garages.

Prior to the airport opening, the garages were said to be wonderfully convenient: just park and walk straight to the Passenger Terminal through connected walkways.

However, these walkways are not on every floor of the building. No problem if there were elevators. But they have not yet been installed. Try lifting heavy bags up all those stairs. And what about disabled passengers in their wheelchairs?

It is not surprising if Chotisak suffers sleepless nights, faced with an unruly mob of problems that make newspaper headlines every day.

During the interview, he may have wanted to complain about all the negative reports. Still, he must know that without them, AOT could in no way improve the poor conditions of the new airport.

Source - The Nations Thursday, 5 October,  2006