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General news >> Thursday July 05, 2007

New airport is unsafe, checks below par, says IATA report


Suvarnabhumi airport is unsafe with checks on people and their belongings in the passenger terminal falling below standard, says the International Air Transport Association. IATA's safety study of the airport found that standards are inferior to those of Don Mueang airport, said an Airports of Thailand source who obtained the report.

The study aimed at maintaining security standards at international airports will be tabled for discussion by AoT board members today. The meeting will be chaired by Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr, who also is deputy secretary-general of the Council for National Security.

The report found there are many spots in the passenger terminal where checked passengers can meet people who have not passed through security, from whom they can receive unchecked parcels or objects and then carry them on board aircraft.

Those soft spots include checkpoints D and G where checked people and outsiders are separated by one-metre-high glass partitions.

Transit passenger lounges are not completely sealed because there is space between the glass partitions through which objects can be passed.

IATA recommends AoT separate checked people and people who have not passed through security in the passenger terminal, and keep arriving and departing passengers apart.

It also suggests AoT deploy its own security staff instead of contracting out the job, and use equipment which can check large objects and animals.

AoT must take stricter precautions in issuing temporary passes for access to restricted areas in the terminal and more thoroughly check visiting vehicles, according to the study.

IATA represents the commercial airline industry with 250 member airlines.

In an attempt to address IATA's concerns, the airport authority has asked staff to secure the partitions through which checked passengers could receive unchecked items, the source said.

It also ordered its contractor, the Loxley-ICTS consortium, to step up security measures around the clock, the source added.

AoT has hired the Engineering Institute of Thailand to check fire safety standards at the terminal. The checks will take 90 days and cost 5.5 million baht.

The institute conducted an initial survey and recommended that AoT clear fire escapes blocked by shops and piles of goods.

The engineering institute will now check the physical aspects of fire exits, fire-detection systems and the readiness of fire-fighting equipment.

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