A motorcyclist believed to be flying high on drugs sneaked through a gate and onto the aircraft apron at Suvarnabhumi airport, a highly restricted area, causing 10 minutes of havoc on Tuesday.
He was chased down and arrested by security guards, and is facing serious charges.
Details were released on Wednesday by Suvarnabhumi general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn.
He said that at 11.53am on Tuesday a man was spotted riding on a motorcycle in the restricted apron area. He had slipped through a gate for officials working at the airport as a pickup truck was entering.
The man, later identified as Vachara Khambut, 34, from Loei province, pointed a handgun and ordered the guards to step back while driving towards the airport apron, he said.
The airport’s security centre was alerted and monitored the man’s movements with closed-circuit security cameras. They showed the man running wildly around near aircraft parking bay No 101, carrying a steel axe.
Airport security guards were sent to catch him.
They were able to arrested the intruder at 12.03pm as he was trying to enter a passenger building after climbing up a ladder onto the walking bridge of Gate 3A and smashing a glass door.
Guards took from him a a steel axe about 50 centimetres long, a replica handgun, a pair of scissors and a methamphetamine pill in a plastic box.
The man was slightly injured by broken glasses while smashing a door to enter the passenger building. Some security guards also sustained minor injuries.
The steel axe and a toy handgun taken from Vachara Khambut aduring his arrest. (Photo: Sutthiwit Chaiyutworakan)
Asked why security authorities did not use weapons to stop the intruder, Mr Kittipong said: “Using arms during an operation is a last resort, for the safety of air travellers. An arrest is a priority for security authorites.”
He said everything went in accordance with international practice at airports.
Mr Kittipong said the incident did not disrupt airport services or flights.
The incident was captured on video and the clip went viral on social media on Tuesday. Mr Kittipong later confirmed it and the airport posted a statement on its Facebook account around 10pm.
Asked why the airport and police were so late in releasing details after the incident, Mr Kittpong said on Wednesday that Mr Vachara was apparently high on drugs and was initially unable to give a coherent statement or answer questions.
Suvarnabhumi police chief Pol Col Jirawat Piempinsreth said at the same press conference that police had pressed eight charges against Mr Vachara.
The charges included trespassing on the airport’s restricted area and violating Section 19 of the Aviation Act of 2015 in carrying a weapon in a way that might affect the safety of the airport.
The second charge carries maximum penalties of death or life imprisonment, a prison term of 15-20 years and a fine of 600,000-800,000 baht.
Other charges were damaging airport property by breaking two glass door panes at the passenger building, possessing weapaons in a public place, possessing methamphetamine, taking an illicit drug and threatening people with weapons.