THAI union opposes shift to Don Muang
Thai Airways International's union yesterday threatened to stage protests if the government reopens Don Muang as Bangkok's second international airport.
Union chief Somsak Srinual said he would submit a letter to Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on Tuesday to urge the military-backed government to keep Suvarnabhumi Airport as Bangkok's only international airport.
"If the government insists on having two international airports, we will consider staging a protest as a last resort," he added.
The union said operating at two airports would raise the airline's costs.
Passengers would be inconvenienced while staff would face personal difficulties. Many have bought houses near Suvarnabhu-mi and moved their children to local schools.
Having two airports could also frustrate Thailand's bid to become Southeast Asia's air-transport hub, Somsak said. "We oppose the idea of having two international airports because Thailand could lose the chance to build Suvarnabhumi into a regional hub," he said. "To be an airline hub means we need a single service centre. Having two airports however will adversely affect international airlines."
He said that if the hub plan did not materialise, the airline would have wasted the about Bt15 billion it spent ahead of the opening of Suvarnabhumi.
"The prime minister should look at this case at a Cabinet meeting and he should review the situation," Somsak said.
Don Muang could be reopened, but as a temporary measure while repairs at Suvarnabhumi are properly carried out.
"No airline wants to operate at two international airports when nothing is ready. Some cities have two international airports only because they have reached the limit to expand their existing ones," he said.
Airports of Thailand chairman General Saprang Kalayanamitr said that the company had approved a Bt50-million budget for the renovation of three buildings at Don Muang, which should be completed by March 25. A public hearing will be held so the public and airlines can express their views on whether Don Muang should remain operational.
Last Tuesday, the government announced it would reopen Don Muang to ease traffic and allow repairs at Suvarnabhumi.
While the authorities have not yet released a clear plan for dividing air traffic or said which airlines would move to Don Muang, several airlines have expressed opposition to the idea.
Yesterday, Highways Department director-general Songsak Phaecharoen said the department's examinations had found that all materials used for the runways and taxiways at Suvarnabhumi were above standard.
However, some parts of the runways are not as good as they should be and should be checked, he added.