Bangkok to operate two airports

PM surprises aviation officials by announcing old airport to permanently reopen.

    The old Don Muang airport will reopen as Bangkok's second international airport [Reuters]
    He said the government was considering which airlines are to move back to Don Muang which he said would "permanently re-open".

    The new airport has faced a raft of problems
    since opening four months ago [Reuters]

    He had previously recommended temporarily moving some domestic flights to Don Muang to allow for repairs at Suvarnabhumi.
    Airlines said they would have to wait for the government to release its detailed plan before making a decision.
    Thailand's largest private airline, Bangkok Airways, said it would have to carefully consider the pros and cons of the move.
    "The airline has spent a huge amount of money at Suvarnabhumi Airport," Nandhika Varavarn, Bangkok Airways spokeswoman, said.
    "We will have to think about what to do." Kulya Kulya Pakakrong, acting president of Airports of Thailand, operator of Suvarnabhumi, said he was surprised at the "urgent, unexpected decision made by the cabinet".
    Don Muang, which started as an air force base 92 years ago, has been closed since the $4 bn Suvarnabhumi Airport opened in September last year.
    Last month, amid growing worries over cracks in the runways and taxiways at the new airport Thailand's aviation authority declined to renew an international safety certificate for Suvarnabhumi.
    The certificate is not required by law for the airport to operate, meaning it can stay open while the problems are sorted out.
    Suvarnabhumi officials meanwhile insist that the cracks pose no threat to aircraft safety.
    Dashed hopes
    Suvarnabhumi, which means "Golden Land" in Thai, is the largest airport in Southeast Asia, with an annual capacity of 45 million passengers.
    Thailand had hoped it would emerge as a regional rival to Hong Kong and Singapore but four months after its opening, the airport has been hit by graft scandals, cracked taxiways, leaking toilets and baggage handling problems.
    Chaisak Angkasuwan, Thailand's civil aviation chief, has backed the move to reopen the old airport saying that Bangkok should be no different than many big cities.
    "In Tokyo or France, they operate more than one international airport in a big city so I don't see any obstacle for Thailand to do the same thing."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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