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Suvarnabhumi » Don Mueang Airport will turn to logistics hub

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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Airports of Thailand (AOT) president Chana U. Sathaporn says he will pursue a dual airport policy and turn Don Mueang airport into a logistics hub for the region.

AM Chana, who will sign an employment contract with the Airports of Thailand today, said he wanted both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports to be used by the aviation industry.

He would encourage international airlines and new budget airlines to run flights in and out of Thailand to boost revenue.

Making use of both airports would reduce the financial burden on the state, as the expansion of Suvarnabhumi airport would require a huge investment.

“The second-phase Suvarnabhumi airport expansion plan would cost more than 60 billion baht. We still owe debts totalling 75 billion baht to the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). If we are not ready, we should not create more debt beyond our capacity to repay. Therefore, we have to efficiently manage the existing Don Mueang airport to make it financially self-reliant,” he said.

Over recent years, a huge amount of state money had been spent on developing Don Mueang airport.

It would be lamentable if the old airport was turned into a shopping mall, he said.

With more than 300,000 square metres of space, the airport had the capacity to raise revenue with appropriate planning and management.

The airport’s empty cargo areas could be used as a logistics centre where export and import firms could rent space to set up their offices.

He wanted to develop Don Mueang into a logistics hub for Asia, making use of its well-equipped facilities, which included warehouse space and runways.

AM Chana said he would quickly commission a study of the proposed logistics centre.

The use of cargo space and rental rates in other countries would be surveyed. These figures would help the Airports of Thailand set appropriate fees.

After the study was completed, AM Chana said, he would call for bids from interested firms to operate the logistics centre.

The private sector would also be invited to invest in an aircraft repair centre to serve both regional and domestic airlines.

AM Chana said cooperation from all airlines was needed if plans to use both airports were to be successful.

The Airports of Thailand plans to speak to airline operators to gauge their opinions.

However, Thai Airways International has already come out against the dual-airport policy, saying it did not want to shoulder the increased investment needed to run flights from both airports.

A study on the combined use of the two airports, being carried out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

AM Chana said he would focus on increasing revenue and reducing expenses as well as fixing existing problems at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Confusing signboards and long immigration queues would be corrected, he said.

Although he possesses a military background, AM Chana said he would not opt for a military approach in working at the Airports of Thailand.

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