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Using 2 airports 'a huge hassle'
The International Air Transport Association says using two airports in Bangkok will hit Thailand's potential to be an aviation hub, and flight connections between the two airports will be a major inconvenience for travellers.
"To grow Bangkok as an aviation hub, the long-term vision should be to have all commercial flights operating out of one airport. A two-airport operation will dampen Bangkok's potential for becoming an aviation hub. Making flight connections between the two airports will be a huge inconvenience for passengers," said Albert Tjoeng, Asia-Pacific manager for corporate communications.
In addition to fixing the problems at Suvarnabhumi, Airports of Thailand should also quickly start work on building the much-needed additional capacity at the new airport, he said.
SUVARNABHUMI CRISIS -- problems clearer, but no answers
'No need to close airport'; firms blamed but not named; 'foreign experts needed'
Water seepage into layers of sand beneath Suvarnabhumi Airport is partly responsible for cracks and ruts in areas where heavily-laden planes manoeuvre, according to an investigation.
The Tortrakul Yomnak fact-finding committee said yesterday seepage was responsible for at least 80 per cent of taxiway damage.
Committee soil expert Prof Dr Surachat Samphantarak said airfield settlement will not cease after draining because it is built on a layer of soft clay. He said although clay immediately below the airport structure had been strengthened a decade ago by prefabricated vertical drainage (PVD) - draining water from the layer - untreated, deeper clay would continue to settle.
"Slowly but surely the clay is settling," Surachat said. "If the pavement is not strong enough we may have differential settlement in different areas. Swampy soil subsides at different rates," he said. That can result in more ruts and cracks.
"I also doubt if the PVD technique was done right. How do we know the contractors completed the drainage process. There is no data supporting the [contractors'] claim settlement in the treated soil layer was stopped [before paving commenced].
The affected taxi areas appear to share a common trait, Suebsak said. Water from heavy rain during construction and additional flooding after completion entered the drainage system and seeped into the 1.5-metre-deep sand layer below the pavement. Trapped water mixed with sand destabilises the sand layer, causing cracks on the surface.
While it appears ruts and cracks are confined to about 80,000 square metres of airfield now, experts said it was likely damage could spread to most of its two million square metres. That is owing to increasing traffic and because the layer is already saturated.
A drainage solution is needed before the next wet season. "I say most of the taxi lanes and taxiways have been trashed," Suebsak said.
Experts said the key issue was that water should never have seeped into the sand layer and suggested drainage systems were "clearly not designed properly".