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Updated:2007-01-28 09:03:54

Major Airport Officially Declared Unsafe

AP

BANGKOK, Thailand (Jan. 27) - Aviation authorities have refused to extend an international safety certificate for Bangkok's new international airport, a senior official said Saturday, dealing another blow to the problem-plagued facility.

 

A Philippines Airlines plane taxis near an area of Bangkok's new international airport that is under repair. Media reports say some pilots are also raising concerns about Suvarnabhumi airport.

Saeed Khan, AFP / Getty Images

A Philippines Airlines plane taxis near an area of Bangkok's new international airport that is under repair. Media reports say some pilots are also raising concerns about Suvarnabhumi airport.

 

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With Runway and tarmac repairs at Suvarnabhumi airport still under way, the Department of Civil Aviation decided Friday not to renew its interim safety certificate, which expired a day earlier. The airport can, however, continue to operate without the license.

 

Somchai Sawasdeepon, the airport's general manager, said the airport also has yet to set up a safety committee as required by the International Civil Aviation Organization because authorities are "busy resolving others problems."

 

The issue will be discussed at the next board meeting, Somchai said, adding that he was confident the certificate will be renewed after the safety committee has been established.

 

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Local newspapers have reported that some foreign pilots raised concerns about safety issues at the Suvarnabhumi, but Somchai said such fears were not voiced at a meeting of airline representatives on Friday.

 

The International Civil Aviation Organization has made it a requirement for international airports to hold an Aerodrome Certificate - aimed at standardizing global airport operations. Suvarnabhumi can nonetheless continue to operate without the certificate because it has yet to incorporate that requirement into law.

 

The airport was enmeshed in one corruption scandal after another during its construction, and since its opening last September problems have surfaced ranging from an inadequate number of toilets to cracks on taxiways leading to the Runway. Probes are being carried out into a number of corrupt deals related to the facility.

 

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On Thursday, several incoming flights were diverted to another airport about 200 kilometers (125 miles) away after debris was found on a Runway.

 

The discovery of taxiway cracks, which began appearing about two weeks after the airport opened, was made public last week by lawmakers inspecting the airport.

 

Cracks at 25 separate locations made it impossible to use 11 out of 51 air bridges for boarding aircraft, causing inconvenience to passengers who had to take buses to and from their planes, Transport Minister Thira Hao-Charoen said Thursday after an inspection visit.

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