New airport to take local flights from Sept 15
Caretaker Transport Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal yesterday fixed September 15 as the new date for Suvarnabhumi Airport to start operating.
While the new deadline was for domestic flights only, the Transport Ministry was sticking
to September 28 as the day for
the airport to be inaugurated officially.
However Thai AirAsia and Bangkok Airways would not be among the airlines ready to use the airport from September 15.
"We definitely can't move operations there on September 15," a source at Bangkok Airways said. "We have a lot of work to do and we are dealing with a number of foreign travellers … taking connecting flights to many domestic destinations. If we have to do it at … two airports, that would be a big problem. We'll move all our operations to Suvarnabhumi on September 28," the source said.
Tassapon Bijleveld, Thai AirAsia's chief executive officer, said the new deadline was not mandatory and it applied to only those who would be ready. "Thai AirAsia can't move there on September 15 because we haven't yet started … working on our office in Suvarnabhumi, and migration also requires a lot of work," he said.
Orient Thai, however, is reportedly ready to move to the new airport to coincide with the new schedule.
Apinan Sumanaseni, president of Thai Airways International, endorsed the new date, saying it would provide ample time to test aviation systems before the airport became fully operational on September 28.
"We are working out the details for the flights (between) September 15 and September 28," he said. During that time, most domestic flights would operate out of Suvarnabhumi.
However, planes from major tourist cities, including Chiang Mai and Phuket, would use
Don Muang International Airport, to ensure that foreign travellers encountered no problems when catching international flights home. Today, THAI will announce its moving plans, outlining the equipment to be transported from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi and when it would be done.
To prepare for Suvarnabhumi's opening, the Transport Ministry has called a meeting today with all related agencies. Pongsak will also hold detailed talks with executives of Airports of Thailand Plc, which is to operate the new airport.
"We're sure that Suvarnabhumi is ready, following successful test flights on July 29," Pongsak said.
"Given the new deadline, only equipment for international flights would be transported to Suvarnabhumi on September 28. Moreover, we will have 14 days to test the airport [before it is officially opened] to [sort out problems]."