SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT

Less than three weeks before its opening, Suvarnabhumi Airport's check-in system is not yet complete. It failed to print boarding passes and baggage tags during tests in front of representatives from 23 airlines yesterday.

Still, the airlines said they happy with the overall demonstration results, saying that the system was more modern and would be less time-consuming than at Don Muang airport.

Moreover, say airport representatives, there is still ample time to correct the problems that were evident yesterday  before the airport will be  officially opened on September 28.

According to Sopin Daengteth, chairman of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC), which represents more than 65 airlines and associated bodies, only 23 airlines that have completed their own information technology systems participated in the testing yesterday, which was organised by Airports of Thailand (AOT), which runs the Kingdom's main airports.

"Others were absent because they could not yet complete their own check-in systems," she said, noting that the system was not yet ready though many airlines had started testing individually in March.

Among the missing airlines were Swiss Air, Scandinavian Airlines and FinnAir.

They have not yet completed their own IT systems, which was developed by information technology firm SITA.

Many airlines were absent from the testing because they could not spare any employees from their current operations at Don Muang airport. So far, SITA has confirmed with the airlines that it will complete the IT installation next Monday September 11. Then operators can conduct tests individually.

During the first official check-in system test yesterday, luggage tags and boarding passes could not be printed out at several points, including the Thai Airways International (THAI) counter.

The airlines had to address the problem by hand writing all passenger information on tags and boarding passes instead of using the computerised system.

"Still, overall, we are happy with the result," said Sopin.

Sopin also said that the official opening of the new airport would be on schedule although some airlines have decided to cancel flights on September 27 and 28 to avoid confusion.

"We believe that the airport will iron out the problems before the opening date of September 28," she said.

AOC and AOT plan to hold another test at the passenger gates soon.

Chaiwat Wararaj, area station manager of Austrian Airlines, said the airport check-in system was ready. Chaiwat said he did not see any serious troubles in the check-in test yesterday, noting that airlines will be happy with the new technology.

Somchai Sawasdeepon, director of Suvarnabhumi Airport, said that tests have been ongoing since the beginning of this year.

The new system is called Common Use Terminal Equipment - or CUTE - which can work at all 460 counters at the same time.

Somchai said the airport would use the test results to improve service for both airlines and passengers

From : The Nation
By : PLA
Date : Sep 8, 2006

 
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