Thai airport chief quits

Resignation comes amid turmoil at Bangkok's new airport over cracks in runways.

    The airport was designed to compete with Hong Kong and Singapore as an Asian air hub [Reuters]
    The airport was seen as a pet project of Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand's former prime minister, who was forced from power in a bloodless coup just nine days before it officially opened.
    Overseeing the project, Chotisak was reportedly under heavy pressure from Thaksin to go ahead with opening the airport, despite industry fears that it was not 100 per cent complete or tested.

    Repairs to runways and taxiways have
    caused delays to several flights [Reuters]

    A statement from the Airports of Thailand (AOT) board late on Thursday said Chotisak had resigned because of "health problems".
    Suvarnabhumi's general manager, Somchai Sawasdeepon, was removed from his job and transferred to the position of "company specialist".
    Later, explaining his reasons for quitting, Chotisak said his job had become so stressful because of the problems at the airport that he had been suffering from "nosebleeds during board meetings".
    "I know how to improve earnings growth, but not fix these kinds of technical glitches at the airport," he said.
    A former banker, Chotisak once told Reuters he had only applied for the AOT job to win a bet with a friend.
    Suvarnabhumi airport was first planned out 40 years ago and was supposed to be a showcase development, competing with Hong Kong and Singapore as one of Asia's leading air transport hubs.
    This week, however, the government announced it would reopen the capital's old Don Muang airport to handle some domestic flights and ease congestion while repairs and upgrades are carried out at Suvarnabhumi.
    Airport officials say there are as yet no safety fears as a result of the cracks at Suvarnabhumi, although many flights have been delayed as sections of the runways have been shut for maintenance while aircraft have had to take long detours around closed taxi lanes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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