Prayut orders airport design contest probe
Wants to avoid delays to Suvarnabhumi T2
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) to conduct a probe into the contest to design Suvarnabhumi airport's new passenger terminal, amid concerns among competing architects and the public over how the eventual winner was chosen.
The controversy arose after the original winner, the SA Group -- comprising SPAN Consultants and Sign-Tech Engineering Consultant Co -- was disqualified after failing to submit the original quotation for the design cost given by AoT.
According to AoT, the original quotation was required for compliance purposes, and was specified in the contest's terms of reference.
Subsequently, DBALP Consortium, headed by renowned local architect Duangrit Bunnag, was declared the winner on Aug 22 after originally coming in as the runner up.
Gen Prayut said after a cabinet meeting Tuesday that the AoT must review how the contest was conducted to ensure there are no legal impediments that would delay or prevent the construction of Suvarnabhumi's second terminal (T2).
Also Tuesday, AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said in an official statement that the contest was conducted transparently, adding the only reason the SA Group was disqualified was because it did not submit the original quotation.
According to the statement, representatives from SA Group had admitted not doing this. However, the group claims it did not receive an original quotation from the AoT.
"The original quotation for design cost was an important document for the bidding process, and procurement staff had prepared and numbered them accordingly," Mr Nitinai said.
"During the document-buying process, the list of documents included inside the buyers' envelopes was made clear to them.
"There were no complaints at the time regarding any buyer not receiving all the documents," he added.
Suvarnabhumi's second terminal is part of its third phase of development. Construction costs are estimated at around 35 billion baht, while the design cost is worth around 329 million baht.
The new terminal is set to be fully operational by 2021 or 2022.
Gen Prayut also urged authorities to act transparently in upcoming bidding for duty-free retail rights at Suvarnabhumi.
Mr Nitinai earlier said AoT is currently holding talks with DBALP Consortium regarding where duty-free areas will be located inside the new terminal. He said reference terms for the new bidding contracts will be submitted to the AoT board for approval by next month.
Suvarnabhumi's duty-free zone contract, currently operated by King Power International Group, is set to expire by Sept 2020. It is common practice for reference terms to be released to interested parties about two years before the next bidding round starts.
Meanwhile, the Department of Airports (DOA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop Khon Kaen and Krabi international airports by 2021 and 2022 respectively, with passenger capacity in both airports set to double after the plans are complete.
According to DOA director-general Daroon Saengchai, plans for Khon Kaen airport -- a major airport in Thailand's northeast -- include expanding its current passenger terminal and parking lot.
The 2.04-billion-baht project would increase its passenger capacity from 2.8 million to five million per year. Khon Kaen airport reportedly handled around two million passengers last year, but the airport has had an annual growth rate of 20% in the last five years.
Plans at Krabi include a third passenger terminal, revamping its two current terminals, and expanding its landing area and parking lot, Mr Daroon said.