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28 July 2014 05:03AM

Air cargo terminal to open soon

02 Dec 08 ,  Bangkok Post / VICHAYA PITSUWAN
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Transport Minister Santi Prompat plans aggressive moves to ease the burden of air freight operators by commanding police officers to clear the way to enter the cargo terminal in Suvarnabhumi airport as he aims to start operations by tomorrow.

"The cargo terminal will be ready to provide services to the private sector in a day or two, and it will run at its full capacity," he said yesterday.

Mr Santi said discussions with the Foreign Minister and business leaders yesterday revealed that the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has not blocked all airport entrances. Mr Santi wants to use the one open entrance left to transport cargo.

He also stressed that three related agencies - Airports of Thailand (AoT), the Civil Aviation Department and the Customs Department - were told to be ready to start operations in two days.

He said that King Kaew Road had not yet been blocked by protesters and police officers needed to be stationed there as soon as possible, adding that police would take responsibility to protect the road from the PAD and ensure a clear path for cargo.

The Thai Airfreight Forwarders Association (Tafa) asked the Department of Civil Aviation yesterday to co-ordinate with AoT to allow freighters to land at Suvarnabhumi. It also asked the government to rent aircraft from neighbouring countries to serve its temporary needs.

The PAD seized both Bangkok airports last Tuesday. The damages to the Thai economy to date are estimated to have been at least three billion baht a day in lost shipment value and opportunities.

But the damage to the country's reputation has been "incalculable", in the words of one official.

Vallop Vitanakorn, the vice-president of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association, said the private sector desperately wanted both sides to end their standoff."In the meeting, someone suggested a company should volunteer to negotiate with the PAD, but no one agreed. You have to admit, we have no idea what will happen to your assets or business if the PAD gets upset with you," he said.

"Even if the government could open cargo operations in Suvarnabhumi, I would not dare enter."

Exporting though Singapore's Changi Airport is an option for some businesses but it would raise their costs by 20%.