Published on December 29, 2007
King Power International yesterday won a battle in its ongoing wrangle with Airports of Thailand (AOT), as the Civil Court agreed to take up its lawsuit against the agency.
In response to the AOT's claim that the case should be forwarded to the Administrative Court, the Civil Court ruled that, based on discussions with the Administrative Court, the case concerns a commercial contract and not a government contract.
King Power filed the civil suit in retaliation against AOT's decision to terminate the contracts to run the duty-free shops and commercial areas at Suvarnabhumi Airport. It claimed damages of Bt68 billion.
The court ordered both parties to work out a scheme to allow King Power to continue its business while the trial takes place. On January 31, they are required to notify the Civil Court whether they have been able to agree terms.
AOT earlier instructed King Power to remove its properties and leave Suvarnabhumi by the end of this year. However, due to yesterday's court order, this deadline no longer needs to be met.
It was reported that a public prosecutor representing AOT would seek a meeting on the case with Air Marshal Chana U-sathaporn, the newly appointed president of AOT, on January 4.
At the same time, King Power's representative will negotiate with Chana on four issues.
"King Power wants assurances that it could continue decorating shops in the commercial areas, which it has rented out.
"King Power also wants permanent key cards for its officers for entry into the passenger terminal, as since the termination [of the contract] its officers are issued only temporary cards which come with time restrictions," said a source.
The source added that in return, King Power was ready to return some commercial space to AOT for the construction of additional toilets. Moreover, it is open to negotiation on the modification of space for fire exits.
King Power is the exclusive operator of the lucrative duty-free shops at Suvarnabhumi. AOT nullified the duty-free contract on grounds that the company had violated the Public/Private Joint Venture Act. It also terminated the contract for King Power to manage more than 20,000 square metres of commercial space at the passenger terminal.
While the case is in court, all revenue from King Power is parked at the Civil Court. Due to the controversy, AOT's net profit dropped 90 per cent to Bt1.1 billion from Bt10.4 billion last year.