Actual site visit on November 12, 2011
Despite perceptions abroad to the contrary, Thailand’s main international airport is open for business and both the routes to Pattaya and the city itself are unaffected by the country’s flooding crisis.
During a Nov. 12 media tour of Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Airports of Thailand officials said that even though the country’s international gateway is not threatened by water, they are taking the crisis seriously, undertaking several initiatives to prevent any impact to tourists arriving for holidays.
Airport General Manager Somchai Sawasdeepon said anyone arriving at Suvarnabhumi wouldn’t even know Bangkok has been hit by flooding. Nearly 800 airlines are using the facility daily, handling more than 100,000 passengers.
He said he lamented that photos of Bangkok’s old airport at Don Muang being inundated confused overseas tourists. That facility, on the opposite end of Bangkok, is little used and only for domestic flights. International tourists arrive through unaffected Suvarnabhumi.
While floodwater is rapidly flowing out of Bangkok and into the Gulf of Thailand, Suvarnabhumi officials are still taking the threat seriously. A 3.5 meters tall, 23.5-kilometer-long earthen dam was constructed around the airport’s perimeter to prevent flooding.
Unlike Bangkok’s old airport at Don Muang, Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the kingdom’s international gateway, is not threatened by water.
In addition, officials dug a canal outside the perimeter to serve as a drainage canal to vents to three different reservoirs. Finally, the airport installed high-capacity pumps on either side of airport property.
None of these measures will likely ever be needed. At its closest, water was seven kilometers from Suvarnabhumi and is now receding.
Once out of the airport, the route to Pattaya is also clear. The Bangkok-Chonburi Expressway takes tourists into the heart of un-flooded Pattaya in less than 90 minutes.
A 3.5 meters tall, 23.5-kilometer-long earthen dam has been constructed around the airport’s perimeter to prevent flooding.