Flights to be delayed during Suvarnabhumi runway repairs

BANGKOK: Officials at Suvarnabhumi International Airport have drawn up a contingency plan to cope with ‘possible’ flight delays ‘if’ the runway and taxiway are ‘closed’ during maintenance work over the next two months. The repair work is due to begin this Friday (March 3).

Officials have asked airlines to reserve more fuel to cover delays while waiting to land.

General manager Sirote Duangratana said the airport was preparing for work on the eastern part of the runway’s surface and taxiway B1.

“The time frame for the repairs has been set for 60 days, for completion on May 2, 2017,” Mr Sirote said.

Louis Moser, chairman of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC), said about 102 airlines would be affected during the repairs.

Referring to a meeting with the airlines, he said they needed to have fuel for an additional 60 to 90 minutes to ensure enough reserves while waiting for the signal to land from air traffic control.

Mr Sirote said the airport would close a 935 meter stretch at the northern end of the eastern runway, where ‘concrete asphalt’ would be replaced with ‘modified asphalt’. Taxiway B1 will be surfaced with Portland cement.

“The airport will still be open for planes taking off and landing as usual. There is still 2,750 meters of runway, which is enough for all types of aircraft, including long-range A380 Airbuses,” Mr Sirote said,

He said that the airport would coordinate with U-Tapao International Airport, which would be a backup in the event of an emergency situation, if flights were unable to land at Suvarnabhumi.

Mr Sirote said the airport had also set up a center to monitor the progress of repairs so the work is completed on schedule.

A passenger coordination and facilitation center has also been set up “in case” there are flight delays.

Tinnagorn Choowong, executive vice president of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, said the airport’s capacity could be cut from 68 flights an hour to 60 while the repairs are performed, adding that it was likely the airport would be overloaded at times.

“Looking into the flight timetable, the airport can still serve a number of flights concurrently. But there might be flight delays from occasional traffic jams,” he said.

Officials said they will apply the ‘Air Traffic Flow Management’ method to reduce congestion, asking airlines to coordinate and adjust flights and timetables.

— The Nation

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