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07BANGKOK6029 2007-12-04 02:26:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S FAREWELL CALL ON TRANSPORT MINISTER

Tags:   EAIR ELTN EWWT ETRD TH 
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1. (C) Thailand is working to resolve the issue of airline
safety highlighted by the FAA in an assessment last July,
Transport Minister Thira told the Ambassador during a
farewell call November 29. The Transport Ministry is also
committed to keeping the new Suvarnabhumi International
Airport open during late night hours, when U.S. airlines
arrive, despite noise-related protests from local residents.
The Minister said he would look into why General Electric has
not been paid for bomb detection scanners at the airport.
Both sides are looking forward to resumption of full
bilateral ties following completion of free and fair
elections December 23. End Summary.



2. (C) On November 29, the Ambassador paid a farewell call on
Transport Minister Admiral Thira Hao-Charoen. The Ambassador
told the Transport Minister that if next month,s elections
are free and fair, the United States should be able to lift
the remaining aid restrictions. An advisor to the Minister
noted that U.S. Trade Development Agency (USTDA) aid was
suspended following the coup, but they hope it will be
reinstated after the elections. The advisor said that USTDA
had approved a technical assistance grant to the Thai Office
of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning for a &smart
corridor8 to Suvarnabhumi Airport to improve transportation
access to the airport. Admiral Thira added that he looked
forward to restoring full military-to-military relations
after the elections.

FAA ASSESSMENT


--------------------------




3. (C) The Ambassador informed the Minister that the Embassy
has received the results of the FAA safety assessment for
Thailand. The Minister said the MoT is working to resolve
the issue of concern. He underscored the importance of
adhering to safety standards (Note: Econoff is scheduled to
deliver the formal report to the Director General of Civil
Aviation on December 4 as per ref. A instructions. End note.)

LATE-NIGHT NOISE POLLUTION AT SUVARNABHUMI


--------------------------




4. (C) The Ambassador then turned to the issue of late-night
noise pollution at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Note: Residents
in the area around Suvarnabhumi recently filed a lawsuit in
an administrative court requesting that the airport be closed
between the hours of 10:00 pm and 5:00 am. Nearly all
flights on U.S. carriers arrive within this timeframe. End
note.) The Minister said that this is currently a big issue
and that the Ministry is working with Airports of Thailand
(AOT) on negotiations to compensate affected residents fairly
so that the airport can remain open during the time in
question.

U.S. AIRLINES GET CONTACT GATES--SOMETIMES


--------------------------




5. (C) While on the topic of aviation, the Ambassador
reminded the Minister that American-owned carriers still are
not often assigned contact gates for arrivals at Suvarnabhumi
Airport, which forces passengers at the end of a long flight
to walk down stairs and board a bus instead of simply walking
into the airport via contact gate. The Minister said he
would ask his staff to look into the matter.


CTX SCANNERS: STILL NO PAYMENT


--------------------------




6. (C) The Ambassador told the Minister that although
Airports of Thailand (AOT) has paid the company that holds
the management contract for Suvarnabhumi Airport, ITO Joint
Venture Group (whose core partner is Italian-Thai Development
Plc) for the CTX bomb detection scanners, ITO has still not
transferred the money to GE. Now GE has said they will draw
down services starting December 6 and will turn off services
as of December 10 if they do not receive payment. Although
he said he was not familiar with the details of the dispute,
the Minister said he understood there had been problems in
the negotiations and the MoT would like to help resolve the
situation.

CARGO TRANSPORT TO LAEM CHABANG PORT


--------------------------




7. (C) Turning to infrastructure issues, the Ambassador told
the Minister that the AmCham community is concerned about the

BANGKOK 00006029 002 OF 002


situation of the rail link between the Port of Laem Chabang
and the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Lat Krabang. (Note:
At a meeting in March, Office of Transport Policy and
Planning Director General Maitree Srinarawat said that a
lease extension agreement between State Railway of Thailand
and the ICD at Lat Krabang had been reached in principle and
that signing of the leases would follow soon. (ref. B) To
date, the leases have not been signed. End note.) An
advisor to the Minister explained that the MoT plans to have
a single manager contract to oversee the movement of cargo
between the two locations. This will start next July. MoT
policy, he said, is to ensure safe, efficient transfer of
cargo and to make Laem Chabang a world class port. As to the
double track railway to relieve cargo congestion out of Laem
Chabang, he said it will be at least three more years until
it is completed.
BOYCE