THAI AIRWAYS CRASH
Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt has ordered Airports of Thailand (AoT) to improve emergency procedures for air travellers after Sunday's Thai Airways International (THAI) aircraft crash.
Passengers lodged several complaints, saying there was a poor response immediately after the mishap.
Mr Chadchart on Thursday asked officials to prepare a five-point plan, which will cover better care for passengers and more efficient measures to reduce the impact of air traffic accidents, within two weeks.
Under the new emergency plan, agencies and officials must be clearly assigned to be in charge of post-accident procedures, and rescue equipment must be obtained easily at the airport so passengers can be reached quickly.
Secondly, airport staff are required to take better care of affected passengers by trying to ease their worries and dealing with passports and other documents for them.
Officials must also reduce mistakes and try to make sure their help gains the trust of passengers.
Next, a centre must be set up to clarify and update situations.
Finally, there must be action plans to ensure air traffic can continue with as few flight delays as possible.
These requirements must be made a standard at all airports in order to avoid a repeat of the confusion and negative reactions among 288 passengers after their Airbus A330-300 veered off the eastern runway at Suvarnabhumi airport late on Sept 8, due to a fault with its landing gear.
The accident injured 40 people and left bad impressions among many passengers who were disappointed with emergency responses from ground staff.
Staff at the terminal failed to help them cope with shock and confusion. Many passengers felt they were abandoned and some had to organise getting to hospital themselves, according to accounts from travellers.
The accident also caused delays to many flights as the southern part of the eastern runway had to be closed for the removal of the damaged plane and runway repairs.
Over the long term, AoT needs to build a new runway in the western part of Suvarnabhumi airport for standby use during such emergency cases, Mr Chadchart said.
"An emergency runway is very important to reduce flight delays because the runways at Suvarnabhumi airport have already reached capacity," he said.
Meanwhile, THAI president, Sorajak Kasemsuvan, said the airline would ask the AoT to build a holding room for passengers who had been involved in accidents so all of them could be looked after by airport staff.
"I admit that staff could not take care of everyone during the incident on Sunday," he said. "But with a new holding room, I believe staff will be able to give better service and meet demands more effectively."
Mr Sorajak yesterday also responded to complaints that buses carrying shocked passengers from the plane remained too long on the runway.
He said this was because officials had to collect all passengers and ensure they were aboard the buses before taking them from the scene.
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- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook