PM 'unhappy' with long queues

PM 'unhappy' with long queues

Tells officials to boost airport services

Srettha: Second surprise visit (photo from his X account)
Srettha: Second surprise visit (photo from his X account)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is still not satisfied with the handling of long queues and lengthy waits at Suvarnabhumi International Airport's immigration control, prompting him to order officials to step up efforts to address the problem.

Mr Srettha made a second surprise visit to the airport on Saturday evening following his previous unannounced visit there on Feb 5.

He said passengers were still waiting too long for key services.

The prime minister posted a message on X on Sunday, saying: "I made an unannounced visit to Suvarnabhumi airport in the evening. The previous visit was in the morning.

"This time, there were numerous passengers. I began to measure the time at the airport from when passengers get out of their vehicles, go through check-in and security systems until they reach the terminal and wait to board the planes.

"As for arrivals, I measured how long it takes for them to disembark and go through immigration. I found it took a long time," he said in the message.

"I asked officials whether they can fix a time limit [for handling each passenger going through immigration]. They said it is uncertain. This aspect needs to be improved urgently.

"I want Airports of Thailand [AoT] or immigration officials to work together to inspect the system at peak hours so they can learn about the problems and find ways to solve them. Next time, I will make another visit for a detailed inspection.

"We are trying to push for Thailand to become an aviation hub in the region as the country is now fully open to foreign visitors.

"I want officials to be service-minded and pay attention to visitors to impress them the moment they disembark. Everything should be seen as an opportunity to boost Thailand's tourism," Mr Srettha wrote.

After the Feb 5 visit, he wrote on X that passengers should take no more than 30 minutes to go through immigration. They also should not wait a long time to collect their luggage, he said.

The two surprise visits to the airport came ahead of planned upgrades to airports and the aviation sector across the country, set to kick off next month.

The plan includes the construction of a new runway at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Mr Srettha revealed the plan during a forum organised by TNN Channel 16 last month.

According to the AoT, it will invest a total of 44 billion baht in the expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport and the third phase of a development project at Don Mueang International Airport.

AoT president Kerati Kijmanawat said recently that service and security improvements are in place for Suvarnabhumi airport, with a total of 65 million passengers expected to arrive this year.

Mr Kerati said the AoT also aims to increase the flight capacity of Suvarnabhumi's satellite terminal 1 from 50 flights per day to 120 flights per day within two months, then 400 flights per day by the end of the year.

He added the AoT is ready to proceed with its East Expansion project, which involves the expansion of Suvarnabhumi's passenger building to accommodate 15 million passengers per year.

The company will invest 8 billion baht in the project, with bidding to start in May, he said.

He said the AoT will also invest 36 billion baht in the third phase of Don Mueang airport's development.

The plan includes the construction of a new international terminal and the renovation of passenger building 1.

The expansion will increase the passenger capacity from 30 million to 50 million annually. The bidding for the project will begin later this year.

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