Bangkok new airport could open in July - official


BANGKOK (XFNews-ASIA) - Thailand's aviation authority said it will certify next week that Bangkok's new international airport is ready for operation, clearing the way for commercial traffic as early as July. The Department of Aviation said it will certify the long-delayed Suvarnabhumi Airport for operation by May 25, and notify airlines that they can begin using the new facility from July 6.

"We will have final checks at the airport after (May 25) to make sure it is ready for operation by July 6, which is when the certificate becomes effective," Thailand's aviation chief Chaisak Angkasuwan said.

"We have inspected all the systems at the new airport for some time and believe that it is ready for operation."

However, Chaisak said it will take several more months to ensure the 3.7-bln usd facility runs smoothly.

The airport has been in the works for more than 40 years but construction and other delays have rescheduled its opening from 2000.

The global civil aviation body warned that the airport needs an international certification for its security systems before opening, a process that takes six months.

"We are waiting for the certificate to be issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for its security systems," said Chitvee Leelasiri, country manager for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 270 airlines.

Chaisak insisted the airport would open even if the international certification is not yet complete, adding that Thai authorities are working with the world body to accelerate the process.

The airport has an initial capacity of 45 mln passengers annually, which can be expanded to 120 mln. It is expected to relieve traffic congestion at Bangkok's existing Don Muang international airport which is currently accommodating 38.5 mln people annually although it was designed to handle only 36 mln.

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