New terminal design ‘must prove merit’

Passengers are seen at Suvarnabhumi airport. The Council of Engineers has urged Airports of Thailand Plc to prove the merit of a favoured design for a new terminal. (Bangkok Post photo)

The Council of Engineers (CoE) has urged Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) to prove the merit of a favoured design for a new passenger terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport.

“We need detailed proof of how this new plan is actually better than the original master plan, because, as of now, we can’t see how it could be considered an improvement,” said Kamol Takabut, president of the CoE.

The master plan is the original blueprint of Suvarnabhumi airport, created 25 years ago. The design was prepared by US-based construction management firm Louis Berger, Netherlands Airport Consultants and the ACT.

The original blueprint has two separate passenger terminals while the new one has a northeast terminal built adjacent to the current terminal.

“As things stand, the terminal looks set to cause mass aircraft congestion because all activities will be concentrated in one small area,” Kamol Takabut told Thai engineers from private firms and state enterprises at a seminar.

AoT reportedly said on Wednesday the new design provides scope to handle expected passengers growth, adding that another terminal laid out in the original blueprint would be built at a later date.

The new passenger terminal will be annexed to the current terminal and will take up to three years to build.

AoT plans to built the new terminal next year and open it in 2021.

The originally planned terminal, which is located slightly further south, will be built in 2025 and completed in 2030, officials said.

Suvarnabhumi airport is already overcrowded with 60 million passengers visiting annually despite it only having enough capacity to serve 45 million. The new northeast terminal will boost capacity by 30 million, officials said.

Mr Kamol said it is hard to see how the approved new terminal will be able to accommodate that many people. He said the design lacks space for aircraft parking spots.

He asked the AoT to explain in an official letter how the new design beats the original plan.

The Architect Council of Thailand (ACT) also announced this week that it will submit a petition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha detailing the irregularities it has found regarding the new terminal.

The ACT also questioned the transparency of the design competition because the consortium that won it is now facing claims of plagiarism.

Critics have accused local architect Duangrit Bunnag, co-founder of the winning DBALP Consortium of copying a bridge designed by Japan’s Kengo Kuma.

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