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Don Muang airport could reopen to ease congestion

BackDec 21, 2006

Don Muang airport, which closed in late September after 92 years of service, may return as Bangkok's second airport because Suvarnabhumi airport is now congested. Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um said passenger and airline inconvenience at Suvarnabhumi airport had prompted airline operators to demand Don Muang airport be reopened, and revive a plan to use both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports to serve Bangkok's air traffic.

Yesterday, he chaired a meeting with current and former executives of Airports of Thailand (AoT) and representatives of the Civil Aviation Department, low-cost airlines and the Airline Operators Committee.

The government of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra changed the dual-airport policy to a single-airport policy.

Mr Sansern said AoT would now review its Suvarnabhumi master plan. He believes AoT proposed expanding Suvarnabhumi without considering its actual physical limitations. AoT planned additional land acquisition and as many as six runways for Suvarnabhumi, he said.

Mr Sansern said working groups would consider the re-use of Don Muang airport, review the Suvarnabhumi master plan and tackle passenger inconvenience at Suvarnabhumi.

An AoT source said a prompt decision on reopening Don Muang could allow Bangkok to serve heavy traffic during the upcoming New Year and Chinese New Year festivals, as Suvarnabhumi airport could not handle any more flights. Its peak traffic stands at 76 flights an hour.

Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of low-cost Thai AirAsia, said Suvarnabhumi airport had neither office space for his airline nor cafeteria for airline staff.

''Today the government has admitted that Suvarnabhumi is congested and has reached full capacity since its opening just three months ago,'' he said.

Re-using Don Muang would relieve traffic at Suvarnabhumi, and could allow traffic of low-cost airlines to grow 20-30% annually in the next 4-5 years.

Udom Tantiprasongchai, chief executive of Orient Thai Airlines which runs the One-Two-Go budget carrier, said Don Muang should be reopened to serve domestic flights by low-cost airlines.


Source: Bangkok Post by Amornrat Mahitthirook. Thursday December 21, 2006