Airport officials 'highly confident' barriers will keep flood water at bay
Suvarnabhumi Airport is “highly confident” its flood-prevention scheme – with its 3.5-metre-high, 37-metre-wide earth dyke and sheet piles – will be effective.
Airports of Thailand senior executive vice-president Somchai Sawasdeepon said the airport also has a team of officers to monitor water levels at six flood gates, including Lat Krabang, Saen Saeb and Samrong. Airlines at the airport are being notified of water levels every three hours to ensure smooth aviation operations in Thailand despite the flooding in Don Mueang Airport.
On Monday, the airport accommodated 945 flights, a new daily record since its opening.
Somchai yesterday briefed Japanese experts – brought in by the Japan International Credit Agency (JICA) which funded the airport’s construction – on the flood defences, including its cooperation with agencies like the Highways Department and the Royal Irrigation Department.
The team of Japanese experts also received a briefing from the Flood Relief Operations Centre as well as Bangkok Metro, the subway operator.
The airport has prepared giant pumps with a capacity to pump 1 million cubic metres of water per day, as well as other protective materials.
The airport is also reducing water levels in floodways around the airport to only 25 per cent of their capacity.
“Experts from Singapore and Germany have inspected our protection system and also the materials we have used to lower water levels,” said Somchai.
Somchai added that canals around Suvarnabhumi, including those in Lat Krabang, Bang Chalong and Nong Ngu Hao, were dredged before the construction of the airport.
A sewer under the Bang Na-Trat highway has been dredged to allow water from Prawet Burirom canal to be drained into the Samrong canal, Somchai said.
Somchai said a new canal for draining flood water around the airport has been dug with the capacity to drain 100 cubic metres of water per second.
“The new drainage canal increases the capacity of water draining and I believe we will have no problems of flooding at the airport. The water will be drained eastwards via Prince Chaiyanuchit canal,” Somchai pointed out.
He said the airport would not be affected by high sea tides because it is ten kilometres from the coast.
However, he was worried about overflowing flood water from Saen Saeb canal into Prawet Burirom canal because the airport is only 1 km away from Prawet Burirom canal.
He said if flood water overflowed from Prawet Burirom canal, it would move to the northern side of the airport. Nevertheless, the flood water would be blocked by the flood barriers at the airport, which include a 3.5-metre-high embankment.
“If the overflowing floodwater is not higher than 1 metre, I believe our 3.5-metre-high embankment can prevent it from entering the airport,” Somchai said.
Meanwhile, Oriental Thai Airlines Chief Executive Officer Manasnan Tantiprasongchai said 9-10 parked aircraft are under water at Don Mueang Airport. Most are MD aircraft and all are waiting to be sold.
She said not all the aircraft have been damaged by flood water, which has entered only some of the planes.
“We parked the aircraft there more than a month ago and we’ll not move them out as there’s no place to park them. It’s also costly going in for relocation,” she said.
She added that Oriental Thai operates eight aircraft at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Six aircraft are being utilised for domestic services and the other two for international services.