Bangkok's new airport, which opened only last September, has been plagued by construction problems and is already running close to its current 45 million passenger a year capacity. As a result it had been thought that the city's former Don Muang airport would have to reopen for smaller domestic routes in order to give Suvarnabhumi breathing space (see Online news, Jan 18) while repairs to its infrastructure are carried out. Suvarnabhumi would then have handled international flights plus a few key domestic services.
But the Thai government has now taken the drastic step of creating two hub airports for its capital city. In other words, Don Muang (which is currently used by the air force) will now be reopened to handle both domestic and international civilian flights.
According to the local media, Thai prime minister Surayud Chulanout is quoted as saying, "The cabinet has decided to maintain two international airports for our country because there have been many set backs at Suvarnabhumi and we need to prepare to handle more passengers in the future."
Thai officials argue that as other large cities like Tokyo, Seoul, London and Paris have more than one airport then why should Bangkok be any different?
It is also believed airline officials were worried about passengers having to make lengthy and unpredictable surface transfers between the two airports when taking connecting flights.
Reopening Don Muang will postpone the need to expand Suvarnabhumi which will need to add new terminals if it is to reach its designed capacity of 100 million passengers.
Don Muang is expected to reopen in under two months from now. But as yet nobody knows which airlines or routes will transfer to the old airport.
For more information go to airportthai.co.th.
Report by Alex McWhirter