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AOT seeks chief to handle airport crisis

BackFeb 03, 2007

Airports of Thailand will soon set up a selection committee to find a new president with the ability to tackle the problems at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Chaisak Angkasuwan, director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation and an AOT board member, said yesterday that the panel would find a suitable person to succeed Chotisak Asapaviriya, who stepped down on Thursday.

"AOT needs a person who can solve any big problems, especially the cracks on the airport's taxiways," he said.

Meanwhile, Albert Tjoeng, corporate communications manager Asia-Pacific at the International Air Transport Association, said yesterday that IATA was looking forward to working with AOT on operational issues at Suvarnabhumi.

This is also an opportunity for AOT to discuss airport charges with IATA and the airlines. Previous talks were held before Suvarnabhumi opened on September 28 last year.

Tjoeng said there was no doubt that AOT was overcharging its customers, given the

current problems at the new airport.

Suvarnbhumi increased its departure tax on Thursday from Bt50 per passenger to Bt70 for domestic flights and from Bt500 to Bt700 for international flights.

Passengers and airlines are not getting value for money at Suvarnabhumi and instead should be compensated for the operational difficulties and costs resulting from the deficiencies, Tjoeng said.

He added that AOT had yet to provide any valid justification for increasing its charges. With earnings before interest and taxes of 64 per cent in 2006, AOT is the most profitable airport company in Asia and among the top five in the world, he said.

General Saprang Kalayanamitr, assistant commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army and chairman of AOT, said the reshuffling of the operator's top management would boost its efficiency.

AOT plans to reopen Don Muang airport within the next 40 days to serve domestic flights with no connecting flight.

The Cabinet is set to approve the plan on Tuesday.


Source: The Nation by Suchat Sritama
Saturday, February 3, 2007