Third runway for Suvarnabhumi Airport to take 2 years

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BANGKOK, Sept 18 – Airports of Thailand (AoT) will build a third runway at Suvarnabhumi Airport, to be completed within two years, and will set up a district court on the airport premises to facilitate foreign passengers and tourists, according to chairman Sita Divari.

He said the new 2,900-metre strip, to be built on the Western side of the airport, would serve as an emergency runway.

The AoT Board of Directors approved the new runway after a Thai Airways International flight skidded off one of the two runways last week, blocking air traffic on the strip for a few days.

Mr Sita said the Suvarnabhumi branch of Samut Prakan district court will be launched next Monday to provide convenience access to the judiciary system for foreign tourists, and help solve criminal problems at the airport.

Suvarnabhumi will be the first airport in the world to have a court and the service will be expanded to Don Meuang and Phuket airports, he said.

“Only non-Thai plaintiffs will be taken to the court in the airport. Trial can either be done with a judge on site or via online video system with a judge at Samut Prakarn district court,” he said.

Only petty cases such as theft with the maximum jail term of one month will be on trial at the airport court to facilitate foreign travellers, he said.

Pongsak Semson, AoT acting president, said some foreigners do not have time to attend trial for petty cases, so the airport court would be helpful to them.

From January to August this year, 1,047 suspects were arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport in 1,980 cases. Twelve of the suspects committed petty misdemeanours more than once.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet yesterday acknowledged a report on tourism in the first seven months of the year that 14.96 million tourists visited Thailand – an increase by 2.53 million people or 20.37 per cent year-on-year.

This year’s global tourism growth was projected at only 3-4 per cent.

The highest numbers of tourists were from China, Malaysia, Russia, Japan, Korea, India, United Kingdom, Laos, Australia and Germany.

From January to July this year, 4.7 million Thais travelled abroad, representing an increase by 312,182 people or 7.1 per cent year-on-year. Southeast Asia was the major destination for Thai travellers.