From a close friend who attended the program Jan 31 at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Bangkok.
The chief engineer for AOT and now a member of its Board, Tortrakus Yomnak, last nite at the FCCT was refreshingly candid and said that there was a cover-up at the time of the initial newspaper report (August 2005).
He will testify for Sernsuk, the ex-Bangkok Post editor, at the Labor Court trial.
He also said that the construction project was rife with corruption - that 30%of the costs thereof went off as kickbacks/corruption - that the runways are cracking at the airplane take off areas where the planes, with full loads of fuel, overload the static limits on runways which probably have substandard sand under the concete (soil tests are underway with 3 different labs).
Hence the runway concrete is in effect hanging in space unsupported. Hence cracking occurs.
So far he has not seen any of the aggregrate in the concrete coming loose which could be sucked up into jet engines. About 70,000 sq meters of runways (both) must be repaired!
The aprons and aircraft parking areas are also cracking and subject to major repairs. If the subsoil, particularily the sand base, is as he suspects, then the runways will have to be repaired using very expensive techniques or be torn up and repaved. This is a 3 year project!
He did not have time to go into the terminal building issues except to say that King Power, the exclusive duty free concessionaire and total commercial space developer, was allotted, under an MOU (no contract yet signed), 5,000 sq meters for themselves and 20,000 sq meters for other concessions. KP actually took 11,820 sq m for themselves and another 25,828 sq m for the others. Why, well KP said that the MOU used the term "approximately XXX sq.m." so they fudged a bit figuring that they only had to pay a bit more rent/concession fees.
In expanding their space, they also blocked entrances and exits, accesses to gates, moved into the passenger walking areas, literally removed 4 moving walkways for passengers which got in their way, etc. . .
The running joke these days is that Thaksin built a massive department store and then put in an airport terminal builiding to enclose it. Of course the terminal building is 400 toilets short of actual needs, many of the jetways are not working -- well, the scandals go on and on.
He did mention the grossly substandard luggage trolleys (I think he described them as "terrible") which injure an average of 50 passengers a day.
Wanting to clarify rumors I had heard, I asked him how much the luggage trolleys cost - he replied, Baht 500,000,000 for 10,000 trolleys (including some form of maintenance). That's Baht 50,000 each or about US$1,400 each. I wonder how much grocery store trolleys cost in the US, or even here. You can almost buy a decent used car for that price.
He touched on the baggage scanning machines only briefly as the presentation and Q&A really focused on the cracks in the runways, taxiways and aprons. . .