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Suvarnabhumi » Transport Ministry says no return back to Don Muang

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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The Transport Ministry is determined to operate Suvarnabhumi as Bangkok’s only international airport and has dismissed a push by low-cost airlines to have Don Muang re-opened to them.

Key government agencies, including the Aviation Department, the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning and the National Economic and Social Development Board, held another round of talks yesterday to seek a common position on the future of Don Muang.

The talks were called after repeated requests from low-cost airlines that they be allowed to shift their operations back to Don Muang from Suvarnabhumi.

Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um insisted after the meeting that Suvarnabhumi would remain the capitals’ single airport at least for the time being because a change after Suvarnabhumi’s opening in late September would just cause more confusion.

He acknowledged the problems of low-cost airlines which had earlier complained about high aircraft parking fees and incomplete infrastructure at Suvarnabhumi.

He has promised to find solutions to their problems by the end of January, when the government and the no-frills airline operators will meet to discuss the problems.

The deputy minister has not ruled out a return of budget airlines to Don Muang airport in the long run.

Suvarnabhumi airport was designed from the start to be the one and only international airport. It has just been opened. An early return to Don Muang would be quite weird. But if Suvarnabhumi is saturated in the future, a return will be possible. Today there is no clear reason for a U-turn,” Mr Sansern said. He suggested Don Muang be developed into an aircraft maintenance centre.

A source at the ministry said low-cost airlines had asked for the return to Don Muang because Suvarnabhumi‘s vast space did not facilitate the ground operations of their staff.

Don Muang is now used for chartered and special flights only while all regular commercial flights use Suvarnabhumi.

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