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Old September 28th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #1
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Bangkok's new airport 'O P E N'

Bangkok opens much-delayed air hub

POSTED: 10:16 p.m. EDT, September 27, 2006

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Thousands of departing and arriving passengers christened Bangkok's new international airport as it officially opened Thursday with all commercial airlines transferring operations to the sleek new hub.

Flights stopped landing at the old, overcrowded Don Muang airport on Wednesday night.

The full transfer of passenger flights from Don Muang to the airy, expansive Suvarnabhumi Airport was completed at 3 a.m. Thursday (2000 GMT Wednesday), more than four decades after the project was originally conceived in 1960.

Built on an area known as "Cobra Swamp," Suvarnabhumi was crippled by everything from corruption scandals and a deadly fire to the military coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on September 19.

Thaksin, who turned up the pressure to complete the airport -- built in four and a half years, all during Thaksin's reign -- heralded Suvarnabhumi as one of his administration's crowning achievements.

Surprisingly, the military takeover did not delay or significantly impact the airport's opening. The military assigned 800 troops to the airport for 90 days to support the transfer and help with troubleshooting.

Several army canine units were deployed at the passenger terminal to inspect suspicious packages. Suvarnabhumi -- a name conferred by the Thai king pronounced "sue-wanna-poom," which means "Golden Land" -- is a little over 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) east of Bangkok in a 563,000-square-meter (6 million-square-foot) H-shaped building.

The new airport is capable of handling 76 flights per hour and 45 million passengers per year. Suvarnabhumi is constructed of steel, concrete and lots of glass that lets in natural light while keeping out the tropical heat.

The oval-shaped concourse corridors are roofed by glass and white fabric panels. A 28-kilometer (17-mile) rail link under construction will connect the airport with mass transit trains in central Bangkok and is scheduled for completion in November 2007.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Last edited by archstudent; September 28th, 2006 at 12:58 PM.
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Old September 28th, 2006, 12:48 PM   #2
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Baggage hiccups mar Bangkok airport opening

By Ed Cropley

Updated: 3:02 a.m. ET Sept. 28, 2006
BANGKOK, Sept. - Thailand's new $4 billion international airport won a thumbs up from most passengers on its first day of operation on Thursday, although teething problems with the baggage handling system led to some delays.

"It appears there weren't enough carts to carry the luggage from the plane," said Hemant Chattopadhyay, an IT professional from Bangalore in India who had to wait 2-˝ hours before being reunited with his bags.

Others complained about a lack of signs to the baggage halls, although by-and-large the massive complex, which will be able to handle 45 million passengers a year when it hits top gear, appeared to have swung into action smoothly.

"The signs weren't very clear and so we had some problems finding the baggage hall and kept on getting lost," said 19-year-old South African backpacker, Gerald Neves. "Eventually they had to let us through some secret door."

"Still they were all very friendly and we got an unofficial tour of the place," he said, with a shrug of the shoulders.

Some 200 bags got lost in the fully-automated baggage system long enough to miss their onward flights, Thai Airways officials said.

Delays in getting baggage to arriving passengers were blamed on the slow transfer of loading equipment across a rainswept city from Don Muang airport, which closed in the early hours of Thursday.

"Now they are using a semi-manual system," said Thai Airways president Apinan Sumaneseni, referring to the scores of army cadets assisting with the luggage.

For Bernard Ashford, a British pensioner on a two-week package holiday, it was plain sailing through an airport billed as a serious rival to Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

If every phase of its planned expansion comes to fruition, it will be the largest airport in Asia.

"No problems at all," Ashford said. "We've got everything we set out with."


In the cavernous steel-and-glass departure hall of Suvarnabhumi -- "Golden Land" in Thai -- check-in queues moved steadily, although some passengers were overawed by the size of the world-record 563,000 sq m (6.06 million sq ft) terminal.

"It's just such a big space it made me feel uneasy," said M.S. Mukti, returning to her native Bangladesh after a four-day conference in Bangkok.

With 12 million tourists a year visiting Thailand and aspirations to being a regional trading and meeting centre, successive governments in Bangkok had deemed a replacement for its ageing, single-runway Don Muang airport necessary.

However, it is 40 years since plans for a new airport in "Cobra Swamp", 25 km (15 miles) east of Bangkok, were first drawn up.

Delayed by a succession of military coups and the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it finally came into being under the administration of billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ironically, following another military coup last week, Thaksin will only be able to enjoy his pet project from his daughter's flat in London, where he is now living in virtual exile.

If and when he ever returns to Thailand, he is likely to be impressed.

"It looks really nice and checking in was very smooth," said Ron Kirschnick, an American businessman who will not miss the tatty arrival halls of Don Muang, now mothballed.

"Overall, I'd give it a nine or 10 out of 10," he said.

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

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Old September 28th, 2006, 12:50 PM   #3
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Thailand opens huge new airport

Thousands of passengers have passed through Thailand's new international airport on its opening day.
Despite fears of initial problems, correspondents say the first day seems to be going smoothly, although there are some delays in baggage-handling.

Suvarnabhumi airport was first planned 45 years ago, and completed by recently ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin was not present at the opening. He is in London, having been overthrown in last week's coup.

Thailand hopes its new airport will boost the country's vital tourist industry, and make Bangkok a regional transport centre to rival Hong Kong and Singapore.

The $4bn airport, the largest in South East Asia, is capable of handling 76 flights per hour and 45 million passengers per year.

The airport boasts the largest passenger terminal in the world
The opening of Suvarnabhumi has been fraught with delays and political interference since it was first planned.

It was an important project for Mr Thaksin's administration, but it was blighted by allegations of corruption during its construction, and claims that it was being opened before it was ready.

There were fears that last week's coup would lead to further delays in opening of the new building.

But the coup leaders were quick to back the airport, which was designed by the architect Helmut Jahn, and the change of government appears to have had little impact on the airport's first day.

Despite some delays in handing baggage, no major problems were reported.

By 0900 (0300 GMT) more than 100 flights had landed and taken off successfully.

"For the first day, it's pretty good. I thought there would be a lot more confusion," Australian tourist Stephen Gordon told the Associated Press.

Suvarnabhumi - which means Golden Land - is about 30km (20 miles) east of Bangkok.

A 28km (17 mile) rail link to connect the airport with central Bangkok is scheduled for completion in November 2007.

Thailand's airport authority says the new building boasts the world's largest single terminal building, at 563,000 sq m, as well as the tallest control tower.

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Old September 28th, 2006, 12:54 PM   #4
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thanks 'kongla' for those pics
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Old September 28th, 2006, 01:00 PM   #5
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Suvarnabhumi opens today
First flight due at 4.10am, but roofs still leak at airport


A throng of airline staff members, carrying their office equipment, wave goodbye to Don Muang airport yesterday. — PHRAKRIT JUNTAWONG

A large signboard displays emotional farewell messages to Don Muang airport, signed by the general public and passengers in the Thai Airways exhibition. — PHRAKRIT JUNTAWONG

Thai Airways International staff sing a farewell song as they bade goodbye to the Don Muang airport which was closed down yesterday. — TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

The new Suvarnabhumi airport was set to open for full commercial operations at 3am today, amid constant hammering due to the construction of unfinished airport outlets and leaks in the roof. Hours before the official opening there were piles of construction materials and dirty glass windows in the modern building.

Facilities at the airport terminal and a high-speed Internet and phone booth were not functioning.

Earlier on Monday, a Thai Airways International passenger flying back from the South complained that only one water tap in a toilet was running.

The heavily-promoted duty free shop was also not entirely completed.

However, Suvarnabhumi Airport general manager Somchai Sawasdeepon, after inspecting the whole airport, declared it was ready to serve passengers from around the world.

He admitted some roofs were still leaking but said workers had already been ordered to repair them. He expected the problem would not affect the airport service. The luggage conveyor was out of order earlier, but technicians had already fixed it, he said.

Airport officials admitted that part of the decoration work might not be done in time, while Airports of Thailand (AoT) chairman Srisook Chandrangsu said the decoration of some airline offices would not be completed by today.

Despite the problems, AoT executives were set to welcome the first international flight to arrive at the airport at 4.10am this morning.

The first passenger flight, of Ukrainian Aerosvit Airlines, was due to fly into Suvarnabhumi from Kiev at 4.10am. The aircraft was then to turn around and be the first passenger plane to take off from the new airport, going back to Kiev at 5.40am.

After the commercial opening, Mr Srisook said, there could be some flight delays and some passengers might get lost in the huge terminal, but the problems were expected to disappear in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont, chairman of the council of King Mongkut's Institute of Technology at Lat Krabang, asked AoT to help solve problems with noise, vibration and magnetic waves from the airport, which he said would disturb teaching and learning at the institute.

''We need to modify some of the classrooms and buildings to keep the impacts at acceptable levels. The cost [of modifications] has been initially estimated at 214 million baht,'' he said.

www.bangkokpost.net Thursday September 28, 2006
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Old September 28th, 2006, 01:02 PM   #6
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from www.manager.co.th
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Old September 28th, 2006, 01:14 PM   #7
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from www.bangkokbiznews.com

Last edited by archstudent; September 28th, 2006 at 01:27 PM.
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Old September 28th, 2006, 01:28 PM   #8
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Bangkok's New $4.1 Billion Airport Opens for Flights

By Beth Jinks and Anuchit Nguyen

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi airport, built on the reclaimed Cobra Swamp, opened today to full domestic and international traffic, with 800 soldiers on hand to sort and lug baggage when systems fail.

Some flights were delayed and luggage was lost or misplaced when the airport was forced to use manual sorting in place of some automated processes at the new 155 billion baht ($4.1 billion) airport, Thai Airways International Pcl President Apinan Sumanaseni told reporters.

A record 40 million passengers will use Bangkok airport in the next 12 months, and the numbers may rise as tourists shrug off last week's bloodless military coup. The junta, which ousted the government of billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Sept. 19, stuck to the former government's schedule for the airport opening.

``The automatic system for baggage handling, especially for departing flights, is not functioning,'' Apinan said. ``They are using their hands to differentiate baggage for each flight.'' The problem may get worse as the number of flights increases in the evening, when planes depart to Europe, he said.

Chalit Pukbhasuk, Thailand's Air Force chief and a deputy leader of the junta, told reporters yesterday the facility was ``100 percent ready'' during a final inspection.

Lingering Concerns

Airlines expressed concerns about insufficient power supplies, lengthy baggage systems, fire-damaged catering centers and unfinished airline lounges before today's opening. The soldiers will be stationed at the facility for three months ``just in case they're needed'' for luggage handling, Chalit said.

Thai Air, the country's biggest airline which operates an average of 270 flights through Bangkok daily, had delays of up to 45 minutes for 17 of its first 19 takeoffs today, and 200 suitcases remained ``stuck at the airport'' Apinan told reporters today.

Baggage system failures plagued airports in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur during their openings. In Hong Kong, cargo delays also resulted in a backlog and damaged perishables.

``We are working to reduce the number of baggage losses and loading delays,'' Wanchai Sarathulthat, permanent secretary at the transport ministry, told reporters today. ``We've added staff in the baggage rooms to work by hand.''

The Real Test

Suvarnabhumi, pronounced ``soo-wan-na-poom'', means Golden Land and was chosen by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in January 2002.

``We lost two of our seven suitcases, and there are a number of people in our tour group who've also lost their luggage,'' said Rakesh Shett, product manager at an Indian pharmaceutical company, after he arrived on a Thai Air flight from Mumbai. ``We are praying that we will get them back.''

Suvarnabhumi has been handling some domestic flights since earlier this month to test systems, with 155 takeoffs and landings yesterday. Today will it deal with the full contingent of 813 flights - the real test - according to Somchai Sawasdeepon, general manager of Suvarnabhumi.

As the first international passenger flight arrived from Kiev at 4:30 a.m. workers were still installing equipment and finishing off fittings, as duty free store clerks unwrapped merchandise and hung signs. Most airline lounges won't be ready until next year, said Chotisak Asapaviriya, president of Airports of Thailand Pcl, which operates Suvarnabhumi.

More Signs

Airports of Thailand will provide more signs and English- speaking staff after passengers complained of trouble navigating the airport, Wanchai said.

The junta decided to open the facility on Thaksin's deadline, as airlines have already adjusted schedules for the transition. Carriers including Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. worked for months to be ready to move operations to the new airport.

``Too much was at stake to pull out of the opening so they had to go ahead,'' said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

First conceived in 1960 and built from a 1994 design, Suvarnabhumi may fill its 45 million capacity in its first year, according to Airports of Thailand Pcl, which operates Suvarnabhumi.

Construction Site

``It looks like the airport will be full from day one,'' Derek Sadubin, general manager at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said in an interview today. ``The authorities will have to think about expanding the airport and there could be a construction site for some years to come.''

The new facility is more than five times the size of Don Muang, and is capable of handling the Airbus SAS A380, the world's biggest commercial plane. A new satellite terminal to boost its capacity is scheduled for completion in 2010.

After a farewell ceremony, 92-year-old Don Muang sent off its last commercial flights last night and will be used by only private aircraft and charter flights from today.

The new airport is also needed to boost exports -- particularly of fresh produce like seafood and fruit -- by providing better warehousing and refrigerated airfreight capacity, Chotisak told a seminar on Sept. 12.

``A bunch of fish and frogs have died at Don Muang before they got to dinner tables overseas,'' Chotisak said. ``At Suvarnabhumi, those fish and frogs won't die any more.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Beth Jinks in Bangkok at bjinks1@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: September 28, 2006 03:36 EDT
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Old September 28th, 2006, 02:30 PM   #9
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It's so crowded.
Is that crowd going to be a normal thing?
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Old September 28th, 2006, 07:07 PM   #10
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Cool & sexy airport !
We looked at mountains until dawn, and then when dawn came, it was too pretty for me - there was pink and blue and gold, in the sky, and on icy places, brilliant pink and gold flashes, and the snow was colored too, and I said," Oh," and sighed; and each moment was more beautiful than the one before; and I said, " I love you, Momma." Then I fell asleep in her arms.
That was happiness then.

- Harold Brodkey
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Old September 28th, 2006, 07:09 PM   #11
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Old September 29th, 2006, 01:24 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Aquamadoor
It's so crowded.
Is that crowd going to be a normal thing?
At Don Muang airport was overcrowded.
At Suvarnabhumi airport gonna be crowded soon
Thai Forum Thailand Info
The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.
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Old September 29th, 2006, 02:01 AM   #13
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Very beautiful new BKK airport!

Εγώ είμαι ο Νταβόρ!!
David (DavoR for my friends)
川添 Kawazoe (riverside) 海斗 Kaito (big dipper of the ocean), in Japanese.
Yo si la ciudad no tiene metro, como que no es gran ciudad y entonces ya paso de vivir allí. Norreport+12000
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Old September 29th, 2006, 04:22 AM   #14
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Congratulations Bangkok!

This airport is stunning!
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Old September 29th, 2006, 05:41 AM   #15
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Problems are to be expected upon the first day of opening no big deal. It happened to Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong international both suffered baggage problems.
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Old September 29th, 2006, 12:51 PM   #16
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if the new airport is crowded already i wouldve hated to be in don muang on a normal day...
STOP! You're invading my personal SPACE!
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Old September 29th, 2006, 07:58 PM   #17
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Yep....its crowded....
maybe terminal 2 construction should start soom........
any happy OPENING!!!.........
btw.... checkin problems is now gone....the problem left is baggage delay...
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Old October 1st, 2006, 03:22 AM   #18
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Old October 1st, 2006, 03:45 AM   #19
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You have the right to remain silent, everything you say will be misquoted and used against you in the forum

-Imate pravo da ćutite, sve što budete rekli može i biće upotrebljeno protiv vas na forumu

You know you love me. XOXO.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 04:53 AM   #20
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i went to the terminal yesterday.. as many people said i think the terminal looks full right now... very crowded. they should think about expansion..
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