Help wanted: Airport needs immigration staff

The commissioner of immigration finaly admitted on Sunday that a shortage of staff was forcing foreign visitors and returning Thais to wait in extremely long queues at Suvarnabhumi airport.

"The Immigration Bureau has a limited number of staff while Suvarnabhumi airport is very spacious and has so many (immigration) counters," said Immigration Bureau commander Pol Lt-Gen Chatchaval Suksomchit after a personal inspection of the international airport.

"That's why some counters are left vacant without staff and the queues are very long."

Concerned about mounting complaints, the Royal Thai Police are considering requesting immigration officers on assignment with other agencies be returned to immigration.

In addition, the bureau will recruit "a number" of new immigration officers for duty at the airport, said Pol Lt Gen Chatchaval. The Police are in charge of immigration offices and border checks.

In the meantime, he recommended passengers arrive at check-in at least two hours before their departure time.

"Many passengers have missed flights after showing up at check-in less than one hour before scheduled departure. There isn't enough time for check-in and immigration procedures. In fact, after the check-in, about 45 to 60 minutes should be kept for immigration procedures," Pol Lt Gen Chatchaval advised.

Suvarnabhumi serves some 100,000 international passengers daily - 40,000 departing, 45,000 arriving and 15,000 in transit. Only 200 immigration officers are on duty during each of the four shifts a day. There are 80 counters serving departing passengers and 124 counters for arriving passengers.

Both arrival and departure counters are about 400 immigration officers short of full staffing every day. (TNA)

Bangkok Post