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Don Mueang rehab up in the air

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The Yingluck Shinawatra administration will have to decide whether it is worthwhile to spend billions of baht to restore buildings at Bangkok's old airport such as the domestic and cargo terminals as well as repair the western runway.


Senior executives of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) say for this big an investment, a decision will have to be made about whether Don Mueang needs a full-blown, permanent flood prevention system such as the one installed at Suvarnabhumi, Thailand's gateway airport.


AoT president Anirut Thanomkulbutra yesterday said undertaking the second phase of Don Mueang's rehabilitation is a policy issue that the government must clearly address.


That phase of restoration will be necessary if AoT is to proceed with five schemes aimed at adding commercial activities to enhance the utilisation of the airport beyond its mainstay operation - serving two Thai budget airlines for domestic point-to-point flights.


On AoT's drawing board before the flooding hit were plans for an airframe heavy maintenance and landing gear repair centre; aircraft parts and component storage; imported car showrooms; a logistics centre; a convention and exhibition centre; and a private jet terminal.


Only one of these projects has been realised - a private terminal for MJets Ltd, which began operations in March 2010 under a five-year concession from AoT.


However, that facility has been devastated by the flooding.


Another AoT executive pointed out the phase-two rehabilitation depends on a 15-member panel on national reconstruction and future development chaired by former finance minister Virabongsa Ramangkura.


But what is definite now is an urgent rehabilitation plan costing nearly one billion baht to reactivate the airport, hopefully within 120 days after it dries out.


The work involved will be twofold. Mr Anirut said the first step will be to restore the runway, taxiways, airfield lighting system, high-power distribution system and air navigation aids on the eastern side in order to serve aircraft belonging to government agencies, the military and VIPs.


The second step will be to restore the former international passenger terminal or Terminal 1 and repair AoT's headquarters on the opposite side of the airport.


The cabinet has already approved 489 million baht for AoT to carry out the first step, while AoT will finance the second step itself for 445 million baht.


Mr Anirut said Don Mueang's eastern runway, to be repaired in the first step, could probably be open for service by the end of January.


AoT, 70% state-owned, will come up with a time frame for the rehabilitation once the extent of the damage has been determined.


However, work can only start once the water recedes, which remains a big question mark.


The water at the airport has been subsiding but was still 50 centimetres deep yesterday. The authorities and AoT management will not drain the water from around the airport, as that would add to the woes of the surrounding communities that have themselves been devastated by the deluge.


They would rather see the water recede naturally instead of manipulating the water flow, said a senior AoT official.



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Pic from press visit on Tuesday (06-12-2011)


THAI Technical Department at Don Mueang Reopens


Mr. Piyasvasti Amranand , THAI President, said the THAI’s Technical Department in Don Mueang has reopened after the heavy flooding which resulted in temporary closure as of 26 October 2011 until now. As floodwaters have receded and the situation has returned to normal, THAI’s Technical Department in Don Mueang resumed normal operations beginning on 6 December 2011. THAI’s Technical Department will be ready to conduct all heavy maintenance services starting on 19 December 2011. At the opening ceremony Flight Lieutenant Montree Jumrieng , THAI Executive Vice President of Technical Department, opened THAI’s maintenance facilities to the press for inspection.



Edited by Prompong J.

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