Suvanabhumi Airport News 2000-2005

Post reparations - August 18, 2005
Concerning the government demands of the Bangkok Post over the 'fabricated story': They demand that the verdict be published in a full-page advertisement in a top-selling foreign newspaper in each country and aired on global television networks, such as CNBC, CCTV and BBC for one hour per day.
Cormac has a humorous observation about the rather extreme demands: Since commercial networks only have advertising slots of 5-15 minutes per hour, it will be interesting to see how they manage this. Especially if they really do mean BBC (not BBC World), which has never accepted advertising of any kind.
I estimate the cost of the remaining newspaper adverts at 3 billion baht, which coincidentally is the approximate market value of Post Publishing. It would also add around 5% to Thailand's monthly trade deficit.

AIRPORT 'CRACKS' ROW: Govt may sue over runway report - The Nation, August 12, 2005
Yesterday: A tale of two newspapers: Airport cracks and the 'fabricated news report' - August 11, 2005
...The legal threat is a new wave of apparent political pressure that has hit the Bangkok Post over the past few years. The paper is largely owned by the Central Group, which had a showdown with the Transport Ministry over a land-lease contract for its Lat Phrao shopping complex in 2002. The contract extension remains a contentious issue to this day.
Also in 2002, the Central Group fought off a takeover bid by a group of shareholders led by a business figure, a bitter battle that many Bangkok Post reporters thought stemmed from attempted political interference.
Early last year, Bangkok Post reporters decried the murky transfer of its editor Veera Prateep-chaikul, who was known to have been under pressure from the management following news reports critical of the prime minister...
A tale of two newspapers: Airport cracks and the 'fabricated news report' - August 11, 2005

Someone at the Post must have really gotten into trouble for their August 9 report, 'US experts insist runways cracked' (Bangkok Post, August 9, 2005): ...A team of US aviation experts is insisting that both runways at Suvarnabhumi airport need reconstruction as there are severe cracks that are large enough to sink the nose wheel of an aircraft, according to an aviation source... (The article has already been removed from the Post website)

TNA responds with this oddly entitled article:
Government spokesman to be responsible for misinformation to media - TNA, August 10, 2005
...For instance, Mr Thaksin said, the fabricated news report in an English-language newspaper that a US engineer had quietly checked the cracked runways had damaged Thailand's reputation in the eyes of the world community that some persons might not visit Thailand because of their concern about such report...

The next day the Post is apologizing for its story on the airport cracks while The Nation keeps the heat on.
Correction - Bangkok Post, August 10, 2005
A press tour of the West Runway of Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday found no cracks in the middle of the runway as earlier reported by the Bangkok Post. There were small cracks on the shoulders near the touch-down points.
These may have been mistaken by the source for serious cracks on the main runway.
The Bangkok Post apologises for any inconvenience this report may have caused to all parties concerned.

Authorities deny big runway cracks - Bangkok Post, August 10, 2005
...At Government House yesterday, Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal confirmed that there were only cracks on runway shoulders that engineers had made to fill with asphalt to prevent cracks in the concrete runway surface when adjoining new taxi-ways are built in the future.
The transport minister also quoted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as denying in the cabinet meeting yesterday that he had invited a team of US experts to examine any cracks on the runways of the new airport.
The report about serious cracks was untrue and New Bangkok International Airport Co (NBIA) would check where the report came from, Mr Pongsak said.
"Rumours are released to make foreigners lose confidence in our airport. As our airport is close to completion, rumours are released to delay the airport,'' said the minister...

HOT ISSUE: Airport wrinkles grow - The Nation, August 10, 2005
...Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Deputy Prime Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and Deputy Transport Minister General Chaiyanan Charoensiri tried to convince the public that the cracks on the runway shoulders are not accidental but connection points to accommodate expansion. But the runways allegedly have other serious cracks - ones which reporters haven't seen - and they could force reconstruction of the two runways...

STREET WISE: Runway crack sprouts worries - The Nation, August 10, 2005
...This is what Transport Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal said he has concerns about. In an interview yesterday, he said the ministry was trying to find the person who ran his mouth off about the crack.
He also squawked that the culprit must have wanted to delay the airport's construction, which would not a patriotic act at all.
It all sounded rather strange, though. Why does Pongsak need to identify the person? Wouldn't it be more useful if he could convince the public that the crack was intentional and was part of preparatorywork for a third runway?...

'A tale of two newspapers' archives

Airport town not under BMA - Bangkok Post, February 23, 2005
...The town will be established by appropriating a total of 63.92sq km of land from Prawet, Saphan Sung and Lat Krabang districts in Bangkok and 220sq km from Samut Prakan's Bang Pli district and Bang Sao Thong sub-district.
...Deputy city clerk Pichai Chaipotepanich said the airport town would definitely dilute some of city hall's administrative authority. The BMA would contribute its ideas in the drafting of the three laws.
... If the economic ramifications were substantial, city hall would consider asking for extra money from the government to make up for lost revenue.

On the forum: 3D presentations of the new Bangkok airport - February 15, 2005

'Bangkok International Airport's consultant is Munich Airport' -, December 26, 2005
Bangkok International Airport's consultant is Munich Airport. It will provide airport re-location and start of operations advice to the new BKK airport, that is due to open in late September 2005. Munich Airport indeed has some experience and expertsie in that field.

More about the world's tallest control tower - November 29, 2004
Dave, among others, alerted us to being mentioned on the forum. The forumers there scoff at both Malaysian and Thai claims to have the world's tallest tower: Vancouver Harbour (Canada) at 465ft is the tallest in the world. It sits atop an office tower in downtown Vancouver and controls traffic (mainly seaplane and helicopter) into, out of and around vancouver Harbour...
Earlier: Interesting airport tower thread on the forum - November 26, 2004

Airport photos - November 21, 2004
Victor writes: Did you see these new photos posted on the constantly changing NBIA website? I'm guessing they're updated weekly!

TERMINAL tussles: Threat of the new Bangkok airport - Channel News Asia, November 18, 2004
While the fight for flights among airline companies - with or without frills - continues unabated in the air, competition on the airport tarmac is no less intense. Since 1998, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul have all opened new international airports, spending $24 billion in all...

Engineer who used friendly persuasion on locals to sell their land looks back with pride - Bangkok Post, October 24, 2004
...Mr Somboon joined the department in 1962 as a third-class engineer and a year later was assigned to buy land in Bang Pli area for the airport construction. He would spend the next 10 years gathering title deeds covering 12,000 rai of private land for the development.
He was placed solely in charge of land purchase. Expropriation was non-existent in the law prior to the introduction of the Expropriation Act in 1973.
The former C-7 official remembers how his hand ached from manually copying title deeds, the tedious negotiations with land owners and the disbursement of expropriation money that seemed to take forever...

Don Muang Airport to become new govt hub - TNA, October 20, 2004
[Yet another idea of what to do with Don Muang once the new airport opens.]
...Mr. Jakrapob told journalists here that the plan was discussed by the cabinet at its mobile meeting in Thailand's northwestern province of Tak yesterday.
"After the opening of the Suvarnabhumi Airport, the cabinet wants to turn the Don Muang Airport to become a new centre for government agencies, particularly those of the parliament and the judicial system", he said.
...The cabinet also discussed a related plan to develop the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court building near Sanam Luang ceremonial ground to be a new museum, disclosed the government spokesman...

The airport expressway - September 28, 2004
Inside info from the forum: ...The guy behind this idea was not LTP's secretary (not Dr. Kamloplak) but an economist from NESDB. You may wonder why NESDB has to do with the new airport. It was the land use planning project of new Suwannabhumee Airport late last year...

Expressway link for Suvarnabhumi - Bangkok Post, September 25, 2004
The government plans to spend 13 billion baht building a 20-kilometre tollway link over the next 7.5 years to Suvarnabhumi airport from the Ram Intra-Art Narong expressway...

City planning only now getting underway around new airport - Bangkok Post, May 26, 2004
Suvarnabhumi airport is scheduled to open in September next year, but authorities have only just started city planning in the vicinity.
The Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning yesterday organised the first public hearing at a Bangkok hotel to sound out the demands of the people of Samut Prakan where the capital's new airport is being built at Nong Ngu Hao...

2004 to be ‘Year of new airport construction’ - MCOT, December 30, 2003
...Launching the scheme, Mr. Vichet said that he had ordered the Department of Aviation to conduct an urgent feasibility study into the construction of a second airport to serve the growing number of tourist arrivals on the southern resort island of Samui.
... there were several other suitable locations for new airports where the number of visitors would make the construction of an airport cost effective.
These included the district of Pai in the northern province of Mae Hong Son, and an airport for Uttradit Province.
He also called for the acceleration of 26 provincial airport construction projects currently underway, stressing the importance of new airports for the blossoming low-cost airline industry, which looked set to increase annual passenger numbers from eight million to 20 million within the next five years.

New airport infrastructure plan - Bangkok Post, November 3, 2003
...Most of the spending proposed for a period of 30 years will pay for new roads.
NESDB deputy secretary-general Visnu Bhulsuk, who heads a committee on the city planning around the new Bangkok airport, said the ``Suvarnabhumi Aerotropolis Development Plan'' studied by four consultant firms would cost 159,127 million baht and be implemented between 2006 and 2035.
Of that, 101,335 million baht will go on road construction and the rest on flood prevention systems, tapwater, power, telephone, wastewater treatment and garbage disposal. The development is split into three 10-year stages and each year of the development should cost about 5,304 million baht...

More airport projects - The Nation, September 26, 2003
The first facility will be a Bt4-billion passenger terminal with a tunnel at the south end of the airport. It will accommodate Airbus A380s... The second project will be of a 1.4-kilometre tunnel at the north end of the airport, expected to cost Bt3.515 billion.

Giant air control tower not yet started - delay a cause for 'serious concern' - Bangkok Post, October 5, 2003
Despite these warnings of project delays, has always been informed that the 'tallest air control tower in the world' project has no practical purpose--it is a vanity project the Prime Minister insisted on after visiting Malaysia's giant new airport. In fact, such a huge tower in the middle of the airport is considered a safety risk. It may be though that the radar system has been grouped with the giant tower project and that the radar delay will cause a problem with opening on time. The airport will also have two smaller control towers (one for each runway). These are being constructed already. Anyway... : Delayed construction of the air control tower and radar system are cause for concern at Suvarnabhumi airport, which is expected to start operations in less than two years...
At least six months are needed for the test run before the official opening set for September 2005.
The 132-metre-high tower and the 800-million-baht radar system will be built by Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai). Construction has not yet started. Aerothai could not be reached for comment on the del

A tale of two newspapers: Airport construction - September 12, 2003

This is a good one: The Post omits the part about a three month delay while The Nation puts this in their headline. The Post calls the lawsuits flying around the project "legal obligations." This seems to be once again a case of a Post reporter taking a government figure at his word, while The Nation reporter seems to know the background to what is going on and relies on more sources. More on the Suvanabhumi Airport

Bid to speed construction - Bangkok Post, September 12, 2003
The government wants the new airport to be up and running by Sept 29, 2005...
He would ask the ITO to forget about its legal obligations with the New Bangkok International Airport Co and agree to accelerate the project.

Airport completion faces 3-month delay - The Nation, September 12, 2003
Completion of the New Bangkok International Airport is likely to be set back three months, due to design revisions of the passenger terminal and aircraft parking surfaces, an official source said yesterday.
Work by contractor ITO Joint Venture is 20-per-cent behind schedule, according to a senior executive of New Bangkok International Airport Co, the state-owned project developer...
Aside from these changes increasing its workload, ITO has had differences with the project's architect, Murphy Jahn/Tams/Act (MJTA), the source said.

$9 billion security overhaul for LA airport - USA Today, July 10, 2003
Interesting new concepts to be applied to LAX to combat terrorism that might have some relevance to the new Bangkok airport in the future: The plan would eliminate the ability of passengers to drive directly into the U-shaped terminal complex, where a car bomb could kill or injure passengers lined up at ticket counters. Instead, passengers would be dropped off at remote locations and receive a preliminary security screening before being whisked to their gates via people movers... United Airlines and its foreign carrier partners, including Lufthansa, Singapore, Thai, Asiana and Air New Zealand, endorse the proposal. But a group that says it represents 80 airlines at LAX says a majority of its members are opposed.

Criticism over weak roof played down - Bangkok Post, July 5, 2003
Sombat Uthaisang, head of the Transport Ministry committee supervising the airport project, said the issue had been raised in 1999 and the terminal designer, the Murphy Jahn/TAMS/ACT consortium (MJTA), confirmed it would not affect the overall structure of the terminal... The miscalculation of the louvre weight occurred in the design process and had nothing to do with changes to the design to cut the construction cost, Mr Sombat said.

A tale of two newspapers: The airport roof
It is not often that the Bangkok Post or the Nation have more background info than the Thai-language papers, but the Post adds in a political element to the latest about 'problems' with the new airport roof. Matichon did carry the story a day earlier though.

Arun Chaiseree asking ITO and Murphy Jahn to modify NBIA main terminal or risk roof collapse - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Matichon Daily, July 3, 2003
Engineer Arun Chaiseree (the founder of Arun Chaiseree Consulting Engineer, an independent consultant hired by ITO) has issued the letter to ITO stating that the weight of the roofs (Supertruss and secondary trusses) designed by MJTA is too heavy for the supports to carry, risking collapse.
The critical points for the supertruss and secondary trusses are:
1) The weight of the trellis louver roof is 124 kg/sq-m--three times the initial analysis of 43 km/sq-m
2) The supporting beams for the secondary truss designed by MJTA cannot carry the weight according to specifications creating metal fatigue on the steel supports
3) The supporting structure for the supertruss has to carry weight 39% more than the maximum limit and the supporting structure for the secondary truss has to carry weight 109% more than maximum limits. Nobody could accept this overloading of the structure.
Therefore, ITO must cut down the weight of the trellis louver roof and find a way to add more support for the roof now. Reinforcing the structure requires 3 billion baht--lighter roods will prohibit the ITO from using heavy glass.
Problems uncovered in terminal roof - Democrats say PM should take blame - Bangkok Post, July 4, 2003
Mr Thaworn said Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, former transport minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha and incumbent transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit should take responsibility for 2-3 billion baht damage caused by amending construction specifications. ``Corruption was practised every time a change was made,'' he said. Mr Thaworn said he still had more evidence to prove the project was plagued with corruption, which had caused delays in construction of a hangar as well as the opening of the airport.

Supertruss! -, February 28, 2003
Thanks to Pas of Bangkok Highrises for alerting us to some photos of the 'super truss' roof structure for SBIA terminal.

Work starts on new airport runway 2 - Business Day, February 7, 2003
Unheralded, unannounced, work has begun on building the second runway for the New Bangkok International Airport (NBIA). The start is three months behind the original schedule of November, but aviation industry executives say that it is good sign that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit are beginning to make things happen at the budding new airport....

Airport bus routes/airport gate construction - translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from Manager Weekly, January 27 - February 2, 2002
BMTA are proposing the new six bus routes connecting NBIA with downtown Bangkok and Samut Prakarn.
1) Onnut - Phra Khanong - NBIA via Sukhumvit 71 Road, New Ram IX Highway and Motorway (connecting to the Skytrain at Onnut)
2) Thai Cultural Center - Ramkhamhaeng - NBIA via Pracha Uthit Road, Ramkhamhaeng Road, (connecting to the Subway at Thai Cultural Center)
3) Bang Kapi - Lad Phrao - NBIA via Lad Phrao, Vibhavadee, and Expressway (connecting to the Skytrain at Lad Phrao)
4) Min Buri - Romklao - NBIA via Ram Khamhaeng Road, Rom Klao Road and Kingkaeo Road
5) Samut Prakarn - Bang Na - NBIA via Sukhumvit and Bang NA - Bang Pakong
6) Samut Prakarn - Sri Nakharin - NBIA via Thepharak, Sri Nakharin and Motorway.
The busses would be both Euro 2 Air-conditioned busses and normal red busses.
Progress of the construction of the gateways to NBIA:
1) Northern Gate (Access B) - from km 12.700 of Motorway - 867.6 million baht - 46% done since this is the Main Gate of NBIA - all elevated to avoid Eastern Railway and Onnut Road
2) Southern Gate (Access D) - from km 14.950 of Bang NA - Bang Pakong Highway - 36% done
3) Northern and Western Gate (Access A and E) - 70 million baht budget - design and land expropriation done, but bidding not started yet
4) Eastern Gate (Access C) from km 10.19 of Onnut Road - design and land expropriation done, but bidding not started yet
5) Royal Route (Western Access) - 300 million baht - design done, but land expropriation not yet completed

Consultant named for airport - Bangkok Post, December 26, 2002
The airline has also made some adjustments to the company's project schedule, opting for fast-track construction management to ensure the project completion by the end of December 2004 and all system testing by March 2005. THAI expects to require another six months to achieve full operational readiness at the Suvarnabhumi airport, in time for its opening scheduled in September 2005.

Crucial meeting called to address NBIA kinks - Business Day, December 7, 2002
ITO and Murphy Jahn were then given one month time to make certain changes so the new airport’s passenger terminal could accommodate 40 million passengers a year. Transport Minister Suriya Chungrungruengkit on Monday promised the new Bangkok international airport would be as modern and hitech as South Korea’s Incheon International Airport and Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok.

Airline industry fears new airport might not open until 2007 - The Bangkok Post, November 27, 2002
...Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed to ensure that Suvarnabhumi was completed on time. ``I want an airport up to international standards, and I want it to be finished on time.'' The airport would be opened on Sept 29, 2005, he stressed...
Contradictory signals are coming from key officials. Last week, former interior minister Sombat Uthaisaeng, who has been appointed to head a new committee established to speed up work on the new airport, said the project's management consultant had told him that the work could not be completed before October 2005. But Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit reiterated that construction would be completed by the end of 2004

Airport will be completed on time - Business Day, November 21, 2002
Sombat's comment came in response to PMC's master plan outlining all construction works inside the NBIA site which said the project might be delayed by one more year.

Red tape to delay launch by one year - The Bangkok Post, November 15, 2002
ACM Therdsak Sajjarak, president of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), said the act required that construction contracts worth more than a billion baht go through at least 19 stages of consideration prior to approval.

Plans to make the new airport handle 40m passengers - Business Day, November 12, 2002
...Sombat Uthaisang, the chairman of the New Bangkok International Airport's Progress Follow up Committee, said yesterday that the passenger terminal was originally designed to serve only 30 million passengers annually but he wants the design changed so that at least 40 million passengers a year can be handled.... Sombat said his committee found that the new airport passenger terminal and concourse buildings are about 30 percent behind schedule. "The former NBIA board failed to make any decisions, which caused the delay," he said.... "I believe the new airport will complete on time as earlier scheduled," he said. Government ministers, including Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have repeatedly pledged that the airport construction will be finished by the end of 2004 and the new airport will be operational in 2005.

Airport faces lengthy contractual delays - The Bangkok Post, November 9, 2002
Very brief blurb: A lengthy process for choosing contractors is delaying work on Suvarnabhumi airport, says Sombat Uthaisang, head of the project's acceleration committee.

New airport "about six months behind schedule" - Business Day, October 24, 2002
In an acknowledgement that construction of Bangkok's showpiece new international airport is not running smoothly and may be as much as six months behind schedule, the government is set to propose that the consortium led by Murphy Jahn be brought back as design consultant to get the project on track....
Government ministers, including Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have repeatedly pledged that the airport construction will be finished by the end of 2004 in order for the airport to be operational the following year. But Business Day understands that work is currently about six months behind schedule....
Sombat said the construction of the passenger terminal and concourse buildings of the new airport had been delayed because the ITO Joint Venture, has stated that it didn't have a clear picture of the building model....
(excerpted from "Design supremo appointed to put airport back on flightpath" - Business Day, October 24, 2002)

Murphy Jahn set to complete airport designs - Business Day, October 22, 2002
The New Bangkok International Airport's (NBIA) board of directors is set to hire a design consultant for the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, permanent secretary for transport Srisook Chandrangsu said yesterday. To ensure that the new airport starts operations by 2005, NBIA is considering hiring the Murphy Jahn consortium as design consultant to work in tandem with ITO Joint Venture, which is led by Italian-Thai Development, the country's biggest contractor, said Srisook, who was also recently named the new chairman of NBIA after a management shake-up.

More assurances about the airport completion date - October 18, 2002
Business Day: New Transport and Communications Minister Suriya Chungrungruengkit yesterday pledged that the New Bangkok International Airport (NBIA), commonly known as Suwanaphumi International Airport, would definitely be finished on time as scheduled.
Suggestions that the international life of the existing airport at Don Muang should be extended were not an option, he added. His firm remarks and the strong commitment of the new minister may help to reassure airlines, particularly foreign ones, who have expressed their worries as to whether the schedule for building the new airport can be kept.... "We must take full advantage of this opportunity as Singapore is trying to compete with us," Suriya said.

Post: Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit has ordered the Airports of Thailand Co to put its planned two-billion-baht expansion of Don Muang airport on hold. ``It's now certain the Nong Ngu Hao airport will be completed right on schedule [in 2005],'' he said. ``So there's no value in spending two billion baht expanding Don Muang airport.''... It would be able to handle 45 million passengers a year, compared with 31 million passengers at Don Muang airport.

Words from the new transport minister - October 5, 2002
Depending on which local paper you read, the new airport will open "by the end of 2004" or "in 2005." Most international observers feel these dates are unrealistic.
New Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said yesterday he was setting up a taskforce to supervise the construction of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport. Suriya, the former industry minister, said construction of the long-awaited airport would be completed by the end of 2004. (From The Nation, SURIYA'S PLEDGE: New airport ready by 2004) and
New Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit has pledged to give priority to ensuring that Suvarnabhumi International Airport opens on time in 2005. (from the Bangkok Post, Airport tops Suriya's agenda)

Threats over airport completion - Business Day, September 11, 2002
This is in reaction to a news item in the Thai press in which Premchai Kannasut, the CEO of Italian-Thai, mentions that there are no actual plans for the terminal yet--the plans in hand now are only basic ones for the bidding process with no details. He cautions that the terminal, as proposed, will only be able to handle 30 million passengers--not the 40 million that are expected by 2005.

Cash-rich AAT upbeat on airport - The Nation, August 8, 2002
The new airport, Suvarnubhumi International Airport, is expected to be up and running from August 1, 2005...

World's 9th busiest airport - The Nation, 06:13, June 8, 2002
Bangkok International Airport [Don Muang] was ranked the world's ninth busiest in terms of passenger numbers in January, according to figures from Airports Council International. The airport handled 2.73 million passengers in January, which was a 3-per-cent lower count than the first month of last year. Hong Kong's airport was ranked the world's 15th-busiest in January with 2.47 million passengers, a decline of 11.7 per cent. Singapore's Changi Airport was 19th busiest with 2.26 million passengers, a fall of 8.2 per cent. They got the stats from this site (Don Muang is 18th in cargo).

Airport news from Wisarut Bholsithi - May 10, 2002
Airport on schedule? - Minister Wannor
Minister Wannor (Wan-Muhammad Nor-Matha) told the press that he will quit politics if Suvannabhum Airport is not done on time (finished by December 2004 and open for business by March 2005, after 3-6 months of system testing). He also said the accusations by the Democrats of colossal bribery and collusion as well as a delayed opening is nonsense.
Airport on schedule? - Air Marshall Nopport Chanthawanit
Air Marshall Nopport Chanthawanit (Head of the NBIA Board) told Prachachart Thurakij journalists that the construction of the airport is 15% done. By the end of 2002, there will be a contract signing for 10 projects covering 26% of the whole section. The other 15% will be covered in 2003-2004. NBIA will hold back some parts the project (700 million baht worth) for Thai contractors only. Even though JBIC frowns upon the plan to retain parts of the project exclusively for local contractors, NBIA will do their best to make both JBIC and Thai contractors happy with the arrangement.
NBIA will officially open the airport by then end of the 3rd Quarter of 2005.
Donmuang's Future
Donmuang Airport (the existing international airport) will have the following functions after the opening of Suvannabhum Airport:
1) Aviation center for charter flights and other special aviation businesses
2) Airforce base (expanding)
3) Small private airlines with NO transfer flights
4) Aviation maintenance center
5) Emergency airport when Suvannabhum Airport can not take flights (the above translated and summarized from the Economic Section, Thairath Daily, May 8, 2002 and Prachachart Thurakij, May 9, 2002)
Airport oil depot location
PTT and BAFS have agreed about the place for Suvannabhum Airport oil depot. It must be outside the airport for safety reasons and risk prevention.
(translated and summarized from the Economic Section, Thairath Daily, May 8, 2002)

New airport tour - 21:05, May 8, 2002
Peter Fretten went on a tour of the airport construction and reports:
* It will have the tallest control tower in the world--slightly taller than the one at KL.
* 12,000 spaces for cars to park (no double parking).
* 8 lanes for arriving and departing cars and 8 lanes for busses.
* Cantilevered roof supported by 120 meter-long beams.
* Runways and flight bridges are being built to accommodate the new giant Airbus planes.
* An underground station and channel for a train/skytrain/subway has been built. Eventually a company will be given rights to install and run the service.
* The piling for the terminal is done. A problem is that the final design of the building itself is still being debated.
* They claim they are on schedule for a September 2005 opening and also that they are 6 months ahead of schedule.

Italian-Thai able to build airport? - 07:36, March 20, 2002
The New Bangkok International Airport [NBIA] has sought the view of the Central Bankruptcy Court to clarify if debt-ridden Italian-Thai Development Co is capable of building the main terminal and concourse of Suvarnabhumi Airport. (Bangkok Post, March 20, 2001)

Don Muang Airport to close in 2005? - February 1, 2002
AFP is reporting on a statement by the transport minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha that there would be no need for Don Muang Airport once the new airport opens in 2005. This was a recommendation of a "government committee meeting," but would still have to go to the Cabinet for final approval.
Other snippets: It could be converted into a maintenance facility or an international conference and exhibition center..... The possibility of the two airports, which are about 50 kilometres apart from each other, operating simultaneously during a transition period has been vigorously opposed by air transport professionals. It would be a disaster as there are no dedicated road or rail links between the facilities and travellers would have to contend with Bangkok's notoriously snarly traffic, experts said.

Wan stresses authority of AAT over new airport
Business Day, January 15, 2002

B47bn rail network to link capital with new airport
Two-phase project to be finished by 2005
excerpted from the Bangkok Post, January 4, 2002
Thanks to Oran Viriyincy for pointing out this article.

A panel has been set up to oversee construction of a 47-billion-baht rail link between the capital and the new international airport at Nong Ngu Hao in Samut Prakan.
Under the first phase a rail track and signal system would be built by 2004 between a station at the airport and a station at Phaya Thai, at a projected cost of 25.37 billion baht. The second phase, from 2003 to 2005, would see a track linking stations at Phaya Thai and Bang Sue at an estimated cost of 5.64 billion baht.

Where to put the jet fuel facility?
November 15, 2001

Wisarut Bholsithi reports: Italian Thai has signed a deal with NBIA to construct a terminal, but PTT PCL (the national petroleum company privatized on Nov 1, 2001--the first lot of the company's stocks is sold out within minutes) is arguing with NBIA over the location of the jet fuel facility since NBIA awarded the jet fuel facility construction contract to BAFS (Bangkok Aviation Fuel Services) which is the company that handles jet fuel at Donmuang Airport.

PTT said BAFS (Thailand Co. Ltd.) is going to construct the jet fuel facility on the land in the green belt area--far from the airport--while PTT PCL would build the facility within NBIA land.

The winning bid and the likely opening date
October 16, 2001

Wisarut Bholsithi reports: Italian-Thai PCL (with the support from Japanese construction firms such as Takenaka and Obayashi) won the bid for terminal construction for the Suvannabhum Airport with a price tag of 36.60 billion Baht, 120 million baht lower than the set price of 36.7 billion baht, after cutting the costs to the bone.

Victory of Italian-Thai PCL for the terminal bidding has stunned Ch. Karnchan PCL, Vijitraphan Co. Ltd., and Taisei-Mitsubishi. These firms said they never expected that Italian-Thai could cut the construction costs so much. Italian Thai PCL is still on the list for financial rehabilitation (recorded by the Stock Exchange of Thailand), but Japanese firms bailed Italian-Thai out of trouble so it was eligible to join the bidding.

However, IATA (International Air Transportation Association) has warned that Suvannabhum Airport is unlikely to be completed on December 5, 2004, so Italian Thai PCL should focus on the ways to expand the capacity of Suvannabhum Airport to be able to carry at least 40 million passengers a year after opening on December 5, 2005 (or 2006) since the target of 30 million passengers a year (the same capacity as Donmuang Airport) during the first year of operation is unlikely.

And according to Thaipost, October 16, 2001: Siam Commercial Bank PCL is backing up Italian-Thai PCL for the NBIA terminal construction with two sets of loans: 9 billion baht and 12 billion baht respectively. Even better, Obayashi and Takenaka (Japanese contractors) said they will continue the terminal construction even if Italian Thai PCL were to go bankrupt. The cabinet also paid 5.5 billion baht back to JBIC.

NBIA passenger terminal construction contract awarded
Italian-Thai sweeps new bid to win NBIA construction contract
Business Day, by Siriphan Pongthanee, October 10, 2001

Italian-Thai Development (Ital-Thai), under the umbrella of the ITO Joint Venture Group, was awarded the contract for the construction of the New Bangkok International Airport (NBIA)'s passenger terminal complex with an offer of 36 billion baht. The bid was announced at the NBIA office and was attended by representatives from the Communications Ministry, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the bidders and members of the media.

Four groups participated in the bid, which had previously been delayed over questions of transparency: The ITO Joint Venture led by Ital-Thai, CKKB Joint Venture, led by CH Karnchang, SVNPK Joint Venture led by Vichitphan Construction and Taisei-Mitsubishi Joint Venture. The bids were based on the design revisions made by the Murphy/Jahn/TAMS/ACT consortium, which features a passenger terminal consisting of two adjoining buildings. Ital-Thai won the bid with its 36.666 billion baht offer.

Of that amount, 15.085 billion baht will be used for the construction of one of the passenger terminal complex buildings, the remainder on the other building. The Taisei-Mitsubishi's 40.738 billion baht bid was the second lowest, 16.527 billion baht of which was earmarked for the construction of the passenger terminal. The highest bid came from the SVNPK group, who offered 49.213 billion baht.

Communications Ministry permanent secretary Srisook Chandarangsu said in his capacity as acting NBIA president that the NBIA would call in the ITO group to discuss the construction in detail very soon. The NBIA would also inform the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), the project's financier, of the result of the bid as well.

Srisook said that the JBIC would likely approve the bid by Nov 1 and has tentatively set the contract signing date for Nov 30. "We have done everything in accordance with the JBIC's conditions. The four original bidders were called in for the latest bidding contest. The whole process was done in a transparent manner. The JBIC should have no problem approving the loan. The construction will take roughly 36 months to complete and the airport will be operational by 2004 as scheduled," he said.

Ital-Thai executive vice president Tawatchai Suthiprapha said the company was able to offer the lowest price because it has its own steel manufacturing plant in Saraburi province, with a capacity of up to 6,000 tonnes a month. On the possibility that the company might join hands with other bidders in proceeding with the construction, he said it was too soon to talk about the matter as Ital-Thai's joint partners were capable of completing the project on their own.

Note about Latest News - October 1, 2001
There is plenty of ongoing news about Bangkok's Second International Airport. The problem is that it is mostly arguments concerning loans and calls to lower the overall cost of the program. While Malaysia and Singapore have been able to construct world-class facilities, Thailand just cannot manage to get its modern airport underway. So we have skipped posting every depressing "loan/cost-wrangle" article and tried to stick to more interesting things. -Ron Morris

New roads on tap for the airport area
October 3, 2001
Wisarut Bholsithi reports: The Highways Department has signed a contract to construct a new road (actually a road expansion to a 4-6 lane road) and new ramps connecting Suvannabhum Airport with Bangna-Bang Pakong Highway (AKA Bangna-Trat Highway) at the 15th km of the highway. The price tag for the road expansion and new ramps is 760 million baht. The Expressway Authority is also studying a plan to construct a new connection from the Bang Na-Chonburi Expressway to the Suvannabhum Airport.

Odds and ends on the bidding process
August 20, 2001
Wisarut Bholsithi reports: The Thaksin government and JBIC have different viewpoints. JBIC wants the four approved Japanese contractors to submit bids while Premier Thaksin and Ajan Wannor want to see all nine approved contractors compete for the terminal construction. JBIC would never want to see Japanese contractors lose in the bidding for terminal construction even though some European and Korean firms have much cheaper bids. Even though Premier Thaksin has lined up Krungthai Bank PCL as a local creditor, I think he will still need foreign creditors to back the project and Japanese financial institutes have the lowest interest rates. Think about it...

Cost blowout threatens further delay
Travel Trade Report, February 2001

The Second Bangkok International Airways (Sbia), faces further delay thus resulting in significant economic loss. According to New Bangkok International Airport chairman General Mongkon the latest problem is a Bt8 billion cost blowout.

Unless the passenger terminal and concourse building contract is awarded within the next few months, the Sbia or Suwannabhumi Airport, as it was recently named by His Majesty the King, will not be able to open in 2004 as scheduled. Nbia managing director Somjetr Tinnaphong said not opening the new airport as scheduled cost Bt200 billion in lost revenue annually, based on figures from the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

The biggest losers from further delays would be the tourism, high-value manufacturing and agricultural industries, said Somjetr. The latest setback facing the Suwannabhumi Airport project stems from the fact that all four bids to construct the passenger terminal and the concourse complex are about Bt8 billion higher than the Bt45-billion budget estimate.

In an attempt to bring the price down, Mongkon said four measures were being taken. The airport’s designer Murphy Jahn Consortium has been asked to modify the design to bring the price within the Bt45-billion budget. The government has also been asked to increase the budget. And the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, which is providing the Bt73-billion loan for construction work has been asked for assistance.

Mongkon said he had agreed with Murphy Jahn that the design modification would be complete the soonest time possible. However, the government appears unable to extend the budget. It is as yet unsure whether the bidders will be able to reduce their prices. All initially refused to drop their prices, but the nbia is yet to begin official negotiations. Mongkon said that the government would have no choice but to seek help from the Japanese government as it is paying for the airport’s construction — the Thai government and the Airport Authority of Thailand provide only the working capital. Mongkon said if the Nbia was lucky it would be able to finalize the Bt45-billion terminal and concourse contract within this year. Otherwise, the company could be required by the JBC to begin a new bidding process which would take another 18 months. The Thai Finance Ministry will be asked to help during the negotiations with the Japanese government.

More delays at second airport threaten Bangkok's hub status
Travel Trade Weekly website, February 12, 2001

The threat of more delays and the loss of gateway status in the region looms over Bangkok’s problem-plagued second international airport.

Chairman of the airport project Gen Mongkol Ampornpisit said last week that Suvarnabhumi International Airport would be delayed again beyond the 5 December 2004 opening date that was fixed last year.

Subsequent comments from Airport Authority of Thailand executives suggested the second airport could be delayed as much as two years to 2006. That would require another round of improvements to Don Muang costing an estimated Bt2 billion.

Gen Mongkok warned a further delay to the second airport project would end Bangkok’s bid to become the premier gateway in Asia and turn the airport into a branch hub of Singapore.

Changi airport in Singapore plans to open its third passenger terminal in 2006, giving it a capacity for 64 million passengers a year.

In its first phase Suvarnabhumi airport will be able to handle 30 million passengers a year. It will have two runways capable of handling 76 flights per hour.

Last year Don Muang International Airport accommodated nearly 30 million passengers. When Don Muang completes its expansion plan in 2003, it will be able to accommodate up to 36 million passengers.

By 2010 all phases should be ready, giving Suvarnabhumi airport a capacity to handle 112 flights per hour and 100 million passengers a year.

It is now 40 years since the project was first initiated and only 20% of the construction has been completed. Construction of the passenger terminal should have started last November. Design flaws have pushed back the project already by three months, which could mean the airport cannot open on 5 December 2004. Murphy Jahn/TAMS/ACT, the design firm, was accused of dragging its feet on the design, which had to be adapted to meet a revised budget of Bt45,000 million.

A clock is ticking at the airport’s development site. As of this publication date the clock shows 1,391 days to the opening date of 5 December 2004 but it has been estimated that it could take another 148 days considering current delays.

Mr Mongkol said, if the airport could not open in 2004, many key airlines would move their regional bases to Singapore for at least 10 years and Thailand will lose a lot of revenue.

New airport doomed to further turmoil - Bangkok Post, May 29, 2000

Even those in charge of the new Bangkok international airport project, alias Nong Ngu Hao, are hard pressed to confirm if the troubled project would be completed by its 2004 deadline. Delays have become a defining character of this four-decade-old project and only 13% has so far been completed. The reason, to put it simply, is politics and corruption.

"Every big project has to deal with political influence. This is a national problem," said Deputy Premier and Commerce Minister Supachai Panitchpakdi, who chairs the New Bangkok International Airport Development Committee. He said that in the past, politicians had represented vested interests which tried to make profits from the 120-billion-baht project but he stressed with confidence that the ruling government was free of such problems.

However, he would not be able to make the same assurances after the government ends its tenure this November. "Before the government ends, I will try to set a clear guideline that will guarantee the progress of the project," Mr Supachai said. "If we leave too many problems that need decisions, the project can be shaken. The construction of the new airport should not be delayed beyond 2004 or 2006." Sansern Wongcha-um, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, admitted that the Nong Ngu Hao project had been problematic because of several government changes in the past. "That deprived the project of continuity in the management and real experts who should have been in charge of the implementation," he said. Although political changes would no longer affect the scheme because loan contracts and the NBIA guaranteed progress, political influence might still delay the completion, he said.

"It is difficult to free Nong Ngu Hao from politics," NBIA managing director Somchet Tinapong said. The Nong Ngu Hao plan was first raised when a city planning consultant firm in 1960 advised the government that Bangkok should have a new airport so the activities of commercial airlines and the military at Don Muang airport could be separated. The firm suggested it should be located east of the capital because Bangkok was likely to grow in that direction. The following year, the Transport and Communications Ministry selected a vast land plot called "Nong Ngu Hao" (cobra swamp) in Bangphli district of Samut Prakan as the location for the development.

It took a decade, from 1963 to 1973, for the Aviation Department to buy and expropriate private land and gather public land which forms the whole plot covering 19,800 rai (about 32 square kilometers) for the new construction. The project was shelved in the following five years and then the Transport and Communications Ministry hired another consultant firm to review it again in 1978. However, the scheme was shelved again for over a decade until 1991 when the Anand Panyarachun government decided it was time for the construction and assigned the Airports Authority of Thailand to implement the project. From that point, the AAT worked with its consultant on the master plan and the conceptual design of the whole airport and won cabinet approval in 1995 to join forces with the Finance Ministry to establish the subsidiary, NBIA.

The serious move by the state to revive the project prompted the children of residents who lived on the airport site since the first land expropriation in 60's and 70's to demand a new round of compensation although their parents received compensation decades ago.

To prove its endlessly problematic nature, the Nong Ngu Hao project ran into problems when Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was deputy premier, in the Banharn Silpa-archa government. The general, overseeing the new Bangkok airport project, unexpectedly aired his idea in 1995 that the facility should be moved to Kamphaeng Saen in Nakhon Pathom, west of Bangkok. However, officials managed to convince him of scrapping this idea the same year.

In 1996, it was revealed that the Nong Ngu Hao airport could not be completed by the 2000 schedule due to a delay in the passenger terminal design and the relocation of villagers from the project site. Problems over the design focused around a requirement for the contractor, the Murphy Jahn, TAMS and ACT consortium, to include the Thai identity into the passenger terminal, plus an added concern the design would cost more than the allocated budget.

The delay gradually postponed the completion schedule of Nong Ngu Hao from 2000 to 2001 and then 2002. As a result, the authorities turned to an expansion of Don Muang airport so that it would be able to serve the increasing number of air traffic volumes pending the completion of Nong Ngu Hao.

In January 1997, Gen Chavalit, as the newly-appointed prime minister, changed his mind again by proposing to relocate the new airport from Nong Ngu Hao to Bang Pu district in Samut Prakan where a new business city was being planned. The new location in the coastal district, that would require land reclamation from the sea, was raised after the state had spent about seven billion baht acquiring land in Nong Ngu Hao and signed various contracts worth over 14 billion baht with Thai and international companies for the development of the old location.

The idea faded within a month after being attacked by members of both the government and the opposition. However, the Chavalit government decided to officially delay the Nong Ngu Hao project and switch more investment to expand Don Muang. It wanted Don Muang to serve Bangkok air traffic until 2007. In the meantime, it postponed the Nong Ngu Hao schedule to 2003 and reduced the airport's initial capacity from serving 30 million passengers annually to 20 million, and from having two runways to one.

The opposition attacked the decision on the grounds the already-congested Don Muang could not bear an expansion, and the state would have to spend on funding the development at both Don Muang and Nong Ngu Hao.

When the opposition came into power in late 1997, it revived the policy to develop Nong Ngu Hao as the number one airport for Bangkok and a regional aviation hub of Southeast Asia by 2003. The new government scaled down the Don Muang expansion while raising the initial capacity of Nong Ngu Hao back to 30 million annual passengers.

The only quick and decisive, but suspicious, implementation of the new airport project was the effort to start the improvement of the swampy Nong Ngu Hao site. Sand and gravel had to be dumped on the site to compress the swampy soil and water drained out through special plastic pipes, called prefabricated vertical drains (PVD). A bid invitation for the landfill contract was announced in September 1996.

The NBIA opened bids mid-November, swiftly evaluated them and signed the deal with the winning contractor, Italian-Thai Development Plc, in the same month. In the meantime, losing bidders complained to the Counter Corruption Commission about irregularities.

Most bidders thought they were disqualified too fast and unfairly. Each contender had to pay 500,000 baht for tender documents. Out of 19 bidders, 13 found they were disqualified immediately upon opening the documents they had just bought. They were required to have installed five million metres of prefabricated vertical drains (PVD) within a three-year period before entering the bidding contest. Believing that the term was meant to favor some contenders, the losing bidders also raised a complaint with the Council of State which later found the contract terms unusual.

Late in 1997, the council told the NBIA to scrap the landfill contract. The suggestion prompted the Transport Ministry to suspend the landfill in January 1998 to ask for the Office of the Attorney-General's ruling on the controversial deal. In the following month, the office took the same stance as the council and told the ministry to scrap the contract. However, the Transport Ministry dared not terminate the deal for fear of being sued by Italian-Thai Development (ITD), as it had spent heavily on the landfill.

Though not losing the landfill contract outright, ITD had its job scaled down from the price of 11 billion baht to about seven billion baht, because the Chavalit administration decided to downsize the Nong Ngu Hao project from having two runways to one. In other words, one runway was being delayed.

To complete the Nong Ngu Hao airport by 2004, the NBIA announced early last year that the piledriving of the passenger terminal would have to start by the middle of last year. The superstructure construction of the terminal began last January and the past four decades have resulted in only 13% of the work being carried out. NBIA managing director Somchet has based a progress report on money the state-owned company has spent so far on the project's implementation. After the upcoming general election, it will depend on the new government as to whether or not the Nong Ngu Hao deadline of 2004 will be met.