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Study looks at Don Muang as 2nd airport

BackMar 22, 2007

Airports of Thailand (AOT) has been assigned to study the feasibility of turning Don Muang Airport into a second international airport for Bangkok, though the first attempt was foiled after strong protests from international airlines.

According to Kulya Pakakrong, acting president of AOT, which is preparing Don Muang Airport ahead of its reopening this Sunday, the Transport Ministry has ordered the company to carry out the study. The ministry wants the company to operate two international airports in Bangkok.

Bangkok now has only one international airport, Suvarnabhumi, which was opened on September 28. She said the company would take months to investigate further details as well as checking the feasibility of using Don Muang as a second international airport. The study will start on March 25 when Don Muang Airport resumes operations after a five-month closure.

"We have been ordered to study the further use of Don Muang Airport," said Kulya.

She said AOT would reopen Don Muang as a domestic

airport from Sunday onwards and it is possible it could service international flights this year.

Don Muang is now used as an airport for international charter flights, demonstrations, training and special purposes such as maintenance work.

The first attempt to reopen Don Muang for both domestic and international flights

collapsed after all major international airlines, particularly members of the Star Alliance, which includes Thai Airways International, cited lack of convenience and higher operating costs for operations at two airports.

After reopening Don Muang, Kulya expected the company would receive revenue of Bt37 million per month. Of that, Bt30 million will be parking and landing fees and the rest will be from renting commercial areas.

The reopening of Don Muang is expected to provide employment to an additional 200 officers and workers.

Ahead of the reopening of the old Bangkok International Airport, the AOT said it has been officially renamed Don Muang Airport to eliminate confusion among travellers.

Moreover, flights operating at Don Muang Airport will be numbered with four digits starting with 1 such as Thai Airways' flight TG 1203 and those operating at Suvarnabhumi Airport will be numbered with three digits.

Three airlines - Thai Airways International, Nok Air and One-Two-go - will move domestic flights from Suvarnabhumi to Don Muang.

"The three airlines will operate a total of 140 flights daily and carry 18,000 passengers per day. We can handle more passengers and flights as Don Muang's domestic terminal can handle up to 11 million passengers per year," she said.

Kulya said the reopening of Don Muang is aimed at avoiding air-traffic congestion at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Thai Airways will operate 30 flights daily that do not connect with international flights. Flights that do connect to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and Krabi will remain at Suvarnabhumi Airport, a total of 11 flights a day.

Sehapan Chumsai, executive vice president of Nok Air, the budget airline subsidiary of Thai Airways, said the airline would move all 60 domestic flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Don Muang Airport.

He said the airline would add three more routes to its existing nine routes, from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, Ubon Ratchatani and Surat Thani, this year.

 The airline projected total passengers to be close to two million this year, an increase of 15-20 per cent from last year.


Source: The Nation by Suchat Sritama
Thursday, March 22, 2007