BANGKOK, Thailand (eTN) – Following the closure of Don Muang Airport, public is getting concerned about the capability of the Airports Authority of Thailand (AOT) to keep Thailand’s major air gateway, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, dry. Confidence into the public authority has been seriously eroded by the fact that they assured a week ago that both airports were fully protected from massive flooding. Then came a massive flooding of the northern field and runway at Don Muang, forcing Nok Air and Orient Thai to relocate their flights into Suvarnabhumi.
AOT is now trying to cover the previous PR disaster and is being more pro-active with its communications. In a release, the airport’s authority indicated that Somchai Sawasdeepon, AOT Senior Executive Vice President and Acting General Manager of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, expressed his confidence that Thailand’s largest air gateway would be able to handle the flooding situations around Bangkok and its vicinity. The airport has a highly capable Flooding Prevention System in place, with soil barriers surrounding the airport. The height of the barriers was recently increased from 3 m to 3.5 m and completed on October 18, 2011 with the assistance of the Department of Highways. Barriers now measure 3.5 m high, 23.5 m long, and have a base of 37 m in width.
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport has also 6 reservoirs with the capacity to store 4 million m3 of water. According to AOT, the current level of water in the reservoirs is at 25% of capacity or 1 million m3. Two pump stations (4 water pumps in each station) are in service and have an ability to drain water out at a rate of 12 m3 per second or 1 million m3 per day.
Mr. Somchai added that preparations for flooding include 24-hour monitoring of the weather forecast and permanent coordination with the Royal Department of Irrigation, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and other relevant agencies. The information received from various agencies is carefully being analyzed at all times to best protect the airport. Additionally, a special team of officials has been created to monitor and protect the barriers surrounding the airport against flash waters arriving from Northern Thailand.
Meanwhile, the airport has called up 2 Japanese experts to check about the effectiveness of these protection measures. The two senior Japanese officials, both from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, estimate that the airport is well prepared but the scope of the flooding makes it hard to determine clearly the possible impact. The 2 experts expressed their concern about a possible electric black-out with water leaking into the power supply unit, which would then disable the pumps’ system for draining waters. AOT confirmed, however, that the airport has been given the highest priority for electric supply and should be one of the last places in Bangkok to suffer power cuts.
AOT confirmed that there has been no disruption in service to all flights and passenger services at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The airport expects to welcome about 130,000 passengers and 800 flights per day this October. Suvarnabhumi Airport is also capable of handling the diverted Nok Air and Orient Thai flights from Don Mueang International Airport – only increasing the number of flights by 33 and number of passengers by about 20,000 per day.
Due to a large number of vehicles being parked at Suvarnabhumi Airport to be protected from rising waters, the airport authority advises anyone wishing to travel to the airport to allow plenty of time and to use public transportation – Airport Rail Link, buses, and taxis. AOT would like to apologize for any inconveniences and disruptions this may have caused.