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Mon, February 12, 2007 : Last updated 8:40 am (Thai local time)

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Home > Business > Stick to one airport, govt told

Stick to one airport, govt told

BAR, AOT and IATA all point to dangers of split service

The Board of Airline Representatives in Thailand (BAR) is planning to meet the Transport Ministry and Airports of Thailand (AOT) next week to urge the use of a single airport, while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that two airports would make for low efficiency in Bangkok.

BAR president Brian Sinclair Thomson said that airline representatives would meet the ministry and AOT specifically to urge them to consider using only Suvarnabhumi Airport.

 Sinclair said airline representatives would also discuss why they see a single airport as better than two airports.

Moreover, BAR will urge the authorities to decrease airport service charges and to make operation costs lower.

Yongyuth Lujintanont, Cathay Pacific marketing manager for Thailand and Indochina, said that airlines wanted to see Bangkok have one airport - Suvarnabhumi Airport.

 "Airlines have invested at Suvarnabhumi Airport and plan to use it as an aviation hub," he said. "They are now worried about the plan, so they need the government to clarify both the short- and long-term use of the airport."

He suggested that the government repair Suvarnabhumi Airport rather than inject extra budget for reopening Don Muang.

Whether or not two airports are used, Yongyuth said, the government must provide rapid transportation, not over 15 minutes, between the two airports.

IATA manager for communications Asia Pacific Albert Tjoeng said the airlines generally needed to have a single point of operation for them to provide an efficient and effective hub.

"Multi-airport cities exist where there is no possibility of operating from a single base due to capacity limitations, and where there is enough demand to ensure that the airports are fully utilised. This is not the case for Bangkok," said Tjoeng.

Operating from two airports will weaken their ability to compete, as two operational bases will result in unnecessarily duplicated costs.

Tjoeng also said that IATA is ready to work with the Thai government and AOT on the operational issues and options in Bangkok.

"For Bangkok to be a strong aviation hub in the region, the long-term vision should still be to have a single airport operation. Two airports will split passengers, airlines and AOT's resources, and will lead to lower cost efficiency and inconvenience for passengers," Tjoeng said.

However, if the government goes ahead with operating both airports, what is important is to have a level playing field for airlines in Bangkok, he said.

The IATA executive said that carriers should be free to choose which airport they wish to operate from. And the airport charges should be transparent and accurately allocated. There should not be any cross-subsidisation between the two airports.

Suchat Sritama

The Nation

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