Airports of Thailand (AoT) has put the brakes on a second terminal scheduled to be built at Suvarnabhumi airport, pending steps to glean opinions from relevant parties including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Several organisations including the Council of Engineers (CoE) and the Architects Council of Thailand have railed against the plan, saying the proposed new facility is poorly located and veers away from the original Suvarnabhumi master plan drafted in 1990.
An AoT source said the board agreed to put the construction of the terminal on hold in line with the management's proposal.
This was because some critics pointed out that the structure does not comply with the master plan, which has been studied by the ICAO.
To tread carefully, AoT will seek opinions from the ICAO about the terminal, which is to the north of the airport's Concourse A, the source said.
The company was also challenged by a failed bidder of the project, SA Group, which said it was unfairly treated by the AoT in the bidding process. SA Group was said to have brought the issue to the Central Administrative Court.
SA was reported to have initially won the bidding with the highest score but was disqualified for failing to submit a price quotation. DBALP Consortium finally won the race. The consortium comprises Nikken Sekkei, EMS Consultants, MHPM, MSE and ARJ Consortium.
Referring to the legal challenge, the source said the AoT was seeking consultation about the issue with the Department of Administrative Litigation of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The company is now waiting for suggestions, the source noted.
AoT needs to put on hold the construction of the second terminal until the consultations with the relevant parties are concluded, the source said.
AoT management is required to gather all factual elements as well as opinions from other parties, including the ICAO and the OAG, and come up with a solution that has to be forwarded to the board for consideration, the source noted.
The source said the board however agreed to ask the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) to rush through the process of deliberating another two construction projects at the airport. They are the 22-billion-baht construction of the third runway and the 6.6-billion-baht expansion of the western side of the first terminal.
The two projects need to be tabled to the cabinet for consideration without waiting for the conclusion on the second terminal project, the source noted.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith presided Wednesday over a groundbreaking ceremony for a third terminal at Krabi International Airport.
Mr Arkhom said the new terminal would help the airport handle 3,000 passengers an hour, as opposed to 1,500 now.
The Department of Airports was also budgeted to renovate two existing terminals as well as construct a multi-storey car park for up to 2,000 vehicles.
The project is expected to cost 3.8 billion baht. Krabi saw 6 million travellers last year.