According to the chairman of the Thai Airfreight Forwarders Association (TAFA), Kovit Thanyarattakul, the problems affecting the cargo operations at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport and its Free Zone are similar to the ones faced by other new airports around the world.
“Although all parties had prepared themselves for months before the move to the new airport, we forecasted all possible problems that could arise and used the problems experienced by other big airports around the world as a guide line, Kovit said. “Still, it is obvious that many things went wrong with our plans. We accept that almost all systems in this cargo terminal are new and that it takes time for all parties involved to familiarise themselves with these new systems.”
“However, we fi nd that these problems are acceptable. We are now working hard to solve and overcome all these problems and I do believe that we will soon fi nd adequate solutions. I am sure that all of us want to see our proud new airport to grow up and become an aviation hub in this region.
After moving air cargo terminal from the congested old airport, Don Muang, to Suvarnabhumi on September 28, 2006, Thailand’s air cargo capacity at the new airport has been increased from 1.2 million tonnes per year to ultimately 3 million tonnes per year. In addition, there is space reserved for further development to handle 5-6 million tonnes a year in the future.
The new airport not only features enormous air cargo handling facilities, but also new cutting-edge technologies of air cargo handling systems. The air cargo terminal which covers around 550,000 sqm. (the biggest in Asia) at Suvarnabhumi has been labelled as the fi rst air cargo Free Zone that from now on will boost air cargo traffi c growth in Thailand. In the past air cargo growth ranged from 4 percent to 6 percent.
An executive from TAGS (Thai Airports Ground Services), the company which presently operates this Free Zone noted that this was the fi rst Free Zone at an airport in Thailand. He said the Free Zone would bring many business opportunities for logistics and supply chain management services providers.
TAGS said that in order to control and manage this Free Zone effi ciently, an IT system called ITX-FZ (IT System and X-ray System for Cargo Free Zone) has been developed. This system controls all cargo movements in the Free Zone. In addition, another automated IT system called ACCS (Air Cargo Community System), which will link this Free Zone community to external parties such as customs, has been implemented.
TAFA currently has 136 fi rm member companies, which for many years have been actively involved in the air cargo industry. Kovit said that TAFA has an important role to promote Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and to get it recognised as a regional air cargo distribution centre.