CHIANGRAI TIMES – The Airports Authority of Thailand (AoT) has built a mezzanine floor at Suvarnabhumi Airport for its new passenger and baggage security screening zone. AoT executive vice-president and deputy general manager of the airport Narongchai Tanadchangsaeng, the present area, which is located on the fourth floor of the departure hall and right after the passport control area, was too small and crowded.
“The new zone will be four-times bigger. We will expand it from the total 400m2 of two security checking points at the east and the west ends to 1,600m2 in total space,” Narongchai said.
“The construction has just finished and will need a final check and equipment installation which will take a month or two,” he said. The new passenger and baggage screening zone will be located before the passport control area requiring passengers to take an escalator up to another floor. They will then have to take an escalator down to proceed to the immigration counters.
The AoT expects that the slight expansion will give the airport more space for passengers, whose total number exceeded its 45 million capacity to 47 million passengers last year.
“Our main problem is to manage queues and waiting times at the passport control area, baggage X-ray zone and check-in area. We try to find solutions by applying new technology,” he noted.
For example, the airport has recently introduced 16 autochannels for Thai passport holders and provided more staff to man every immigration counter during peak hours.
“We have already implemented body scanning for transit passengers. We also support airlines using mobile check-in and mobile boarding passes like Thai Airways offer for their domestic flights. The technology can help reduce the numbers of passengers standing in the queue at check-in counters,” he said.
“The next step is to improve the baggage handling system. We want to have technology to inform passengers when their luggage will be delivered. I believe passengers will be less worried if they know how long they are going to wait for their luggage to arrive,” he said.
In addition, AoT also has a plan to offer free wireless internet throughout the airport next year.
“Wi-fi is regarded as a basic infrastructure. Although we already have free internet corners, it will definitely be convenient for passengers if they can use their own devices like a smartphone, iPad or their notebook,” he said.
The AoT is expected to allocate a budget for the service right after the existing internet concession with a private company will end next year.
Regarding the expansion issue of the airport, the AoT executive vice-president said it would start this year and is expected to be finished in 2017.
“AoT is in the process of selecting the project consultant. We already have the construction plan and will open for project bidding soon,” he noted.