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Airport could be delayed a year

Construction work which is behind schedule could delay the opening of Suvarnabhumi airport for a year to September next year at the latest, a source at New Bangkok International Airport Co (NBIA) said yesterday.

Despite promises by Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit to finish construction of all facilities by Sept 29 this year, the source, who is directly involved in the project, was pessimistic that could be achieved.

Construction was likely to last until December, but then another three months would be needed to test system integration and another six more months for virtual operations, the source said.

The construction of an elevated road in front of the airport's terminal has failed to meet its deadline and the builder, S & V Joint Venture of Shimizu Corp and Vichitbhan Construction Co, have been fined 22 million baht.

Other construction jobs which are complicated are also delayed and contractors are putting on extra workers to accelerate their work, according to the source. Unlikely to meet deadlines are a remote aircraft parking area and a cargo parking area that Kampangphet Viwat Construction Co must complete next month. Construction work is only 60% complete.

Initially the government announced Sept 29 this year as the date for the airport in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district to open. Later it said that date was set for all construction projects to finish.

Srisook Chandrangsu, chairman of Airports of Thailand, the agency supervising NBIA, has already admitted a delay was likely with expectations the airport would open in March next year.

The cost of construction materials had gone up, the same source said. The cost of asphalt, for example, had risen from 5,700 baht a tonne to 10,200 baht per tonne. But Mr Suriya still expected construction to be finished by Sept 29 this year as planned.

One of the tasks to be accelerated was the installation of 26 CTX 9000 bomb scanners, the minister said.

The airport builder, ITO Joint Venture, would have to work together with GE InVision, the supplier, to complete the task by Sept 29, he said.

The direct sale agreement on the detectors was signed on Thursday. Mr Suriya said the ceremony could not be arranged in advance due to a problem with ITO. NBIA reached an agreement with ITO on Wednesday, he said. ITO would be fined 2.5 million baht a day if the consortium could not completely install the scanners by Sept 29. Agreement on that condition was only reached on Wednesday, so there was no time to tell the press about the signing ceremony.

Thawatchai Suthiprapha, the ITO project manager, said the consortium, comprising Italian-Thai Development, Takenaka and Obayashi, would talk to NBIA on Tuesday on the working plan for the scanners and would try to meet deadline.
Bangkok Post 23 July 2005 www.bangkokpost.com
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