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Phuket airport plane crash wreckage under tarpaulins by the sea

Phuket Holiday Crash Wreck Still on Show at Airport

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
IMPROVEMENTS are being planned at Phuket International Airport by Prathuang Somkhom, the new General Manager, and his management team.

Phuketwan spoke to him on a day when plans were being hatched at an airport management meeting to enlarge the car park by using a field close to his office to temporarily expand space.

While passenger numbers have dipped, it seems car parking spaces at the airport always remain hard to find.

Complaints still come regularly, too, about the high cost of parking, which increased not long ago, without warning for English-speaking travellers.

Discussions are also taking place to resolve the constant unhappiness with tuk-tuks and taxis at the airport.

But the biggest issue for the airport remains, as it has done since September 16, 2007, the crash of One Two Go flight 269 and its aftermath.

It's always going to be hard to forget the crash landing of a holiday flight that claimed 90 passengers and crew and left 40 survivors with injuries and burns, some of them serious.

It is, however, almost impossible to forget the September 16 crash because the broken fuselage can still be seen at Phuket airport, shifted to one side, under trees, close to the sea, covered by tarpaulins.

Two Phuketwan readers have sent photographs in the past few weeks of the wreckage, taken from their seats on flights coming and going on the single runway at Phuket.

Perhaps the wreckage will still be on show when top officials from Thailand and 26 other nations come to Phuket for an important regional summit in mid-July?

It seems odd to us that while the airport management has always rejected the idea of having a memorial to the 2007 crash dead at the airport, the wreckage - the worst kind of memorial - is still there, in public view.

The full report on the crash, of course, has yet to be released, although we understand it has been in the hands of Thai officials for months now.

Summaries of the report have been provided verbally, and the Department of Civil Aviation has posted the key recommendations, in the Thai language, on its website.

Yet the report in its entirety appears to be being held back. Hopes of the report being released have been generated from time to time over the past two years, then gone unfulfilled, more than once.

Our suspicion is that there will be some hoopla around the time of the second anniversary, when details of the complete report may be revealed.

It is likely that by September 16, 2009, the airline, the Airports of Thailand and the Department of Transport will be able to tell us that all the recommendations of the report have been put in place.

On the day of our interview, Khun Prathuang tells us that there have been substantial crash rescue drills regularly three times a year at Phuket airport, with smaller drills each month.

A large-scale practice drill is planned for September, to which the media will be invited, he said.

The wreckage must remain at the airport until all aspects of the insurance issues surrounding the fatal mishap have been resolved, he said.

Khun Prathuang says there has been much greater awareness since the mishap, and the need for rescuers to be at the scene within three minutes is part of every training exercise.

While he was in charge at Chiang Rai airport, the airport won environmental awards four years in a row. Khun Prathuang is hopeful of achieving a similar result next year for Phuket.

He is keen to keep the surrounding landscape attractive and has visited four villages around the airport, telling residents that every effort will be made to contain and reduce noise. New aircraft are quieter, he says.

While the Airports of Thailand last week confirmed the 5.79-billion-baht plan to double Phuket's passenger handling capacity to 12.5 million a year by 2013, the runway is unlikely to be extended out into the sea.

Times may be quiet in tourism but Phuket remains Thailand's second busiest airport. Early last year, the expectation was the traffic would top six million.

The numbers dipped after high season then tumbled in August after the Phuket airport invasion, and fell again after a longer airport protest blockade in Bangkok in November.

The first four months of 2009 remained slower with passenger numbers down by 13.8 percent on the record 2008 high season to 2.09 million.

Taking a down to earth approach, Khun Prathuang is aiming to replace the terminal's ageing escalators in October and hopes to find the money for a major refurbishment of toilet facilities.

A terminal dedicated to private jets remains part of the plan to boost Phuket's appeal to the rich and famous.

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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Please put the remains in a hanger. Not too much to ask for peoples' dignity, ok ?
This can only bring bad kama to all those who have the authority to act, but don't.

Posted by Spy vs Spy on June 30, 2009 22:07

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There was a memorial, I arranged it and we placed a spirit house on a site near to the airplane, it was removed.

Posted by Christy on July 1, 2009 08:25

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Just like the Tsunami Memorial on Phi Phi. On that spot is a bar now.

Posted by Martin on July 1, 2009 11:37


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