THAI baulks at moving to Don Muang
National airline joins with 60 others in staying put after reports say repairs to new airport will not be very extensive
Thai Airways Inter-national along with more than 60 other airlines have confirmed they will stay at Suvarnabhumi Airport despite the government plan to reopen Don Muang as a second international terminal.
Meanwhile, three budget airlines, AirAsia, Jet Star Asia and Tiger Air, are expected to move to Don Muang Airport, said a source in the aviation industry.
At the board of directors meeting yesterday, THAI chairman Chalit Pukbhasuk said the airline had resolved to operate both domestic and international flights at Suvarnabhumi. Earlier, THAI planned to move its non-transit domestic flights to Don Muang.
"We have invested hugely in the new airport and we're also committed to provide facilities to clients of the Star Alliance members," he said.
THAI has invested Bt16 billion in facilities and equipment for the new airport, which has been opened for four months.
Chalit's statement is in line with the comment from an aviation source who said that the Board of Airline Representatives in Thailand (BAR), which represents more than 60 airlines operating in Thailand, including Thai Airways International Plc and all members of Star Alliance, have confirmed that its members will maintain operations at Suvarnabhumi because of the huge investment they have made.
"The airlines are now becoming more confident in using Suvarnabhumi Airport after the government reported the cracks in the taxiways and runway are not serious and it is committed to fixing the problems," the source said.
Council of Engineers President Vira Mavijak also said yesterday that Thai engineers are capable of fixing the problems at Suvarnabhumi without any help from foreign experts. He is against the Airports of Thailand chairman Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr's idea of appointing foreign engineers for the job, citing it would be a disgrace to the country.
"Moreover, problems at Suvarnabhumi are tiny and need not to be concealed given that they do not lead to safety problems," he added.
Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen will meet airline representatives today (February 15) to discuss further details about the operating of two international airports.
Theera cited earlier that Don Muang must be reopened as a domestic and international airport due to congestion at Suvarnabhumi. As some airlines move to Don Muang, traffic would be lighter at Suvarnabhumi and pave the way for repairs of the cracks on runways and taxiways.
It is not certain if Don Muang will be permanently reopened.
Meanwhile, according to the aviation source, Don Muang Airport could be reopened permanently but only for domestic flights.
AirAsia, Tiger Air and Jet Star Asia would move all the operations from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Don Muang Airport once the government makes a final decision on re-opening Don Muang.
"AirAsia is a Malaysian airline while the other two carriers are Singaporean. They will use Don Muang, where they don't need to make much investment," the source said.
However, Thailand's two budget airlines - Nok Air and One Two Go - are considering moving to Don Muang Airport but are waiting for clearer answers on how the authorities would operate the two airports.