September 22, 2012 00:00 By Nakarin Srilert The Nation
Don Mueang Airport is 95 per cent ready to serve low-cost airlines and passengers when it is fully relaunched on October 1, Airports of Thailand (AOT) said yesterday.
Paranee Vatanotai, director of the airport, said it had arranged with relevant parties to prepare transport service between Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airport.
AOT conducted a readiness check of Don Mueang yesterday. The test used 135 people to act as passengers with luggage preparing to board an AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Singapore departing at 1.10pm. According to AOT, the test ran smoothly.
“As of now AOT is 95 per cent ready,” Paranee said. “Some parts at the airport are still being improved, such as the commercial space of The Mall department store and King Power’s duty-free shop space. Both companies have confirmed that everything will definitely be ready before October 1.”
Currently the carriers using Don Mueang Airport are Nok Air and Orient Thai, as well as charter flights. Thai AirAsia, the biggest low-cost carrier, will relocate on October 1 from Suvarnabhumi.
Paranee said three Chinese and South Korean low-cost carriers had shown interest in moving to Don Mueang Airport and had contacted AOT to arrange a visit to check its readiness before making a final decision. They are expected to inform AOT soon on their conclusions.
The airport currently serves 150 flights per day with a total of 15,000 passengers, which is expected to increase to 256 flights per day with an estimated 30,000 passengers after its full opening on October 1.
For its flood-prevention plan, AOT will spend Bt131 million on building a 7.3-kilometre embankment 3.85 metres above sea level and will install pumps in all areas of the airport. It will also jointly conduct a flood-prevention drill with the Air Force next Thursday.
AOT has prepared 300 staff to provide immigration service, who will work four shifts. They can provide service at a rate of not more than 45 seconds per passenger. Electronic passport readers have also been installed.
The airport is expected to be able to serve at least 6.5 million passengers per year.
Don Mueang was Bangkok’s only international airport before Suvarnabhumi was opened in 2006. The old airport is being brought back into service to relieve congestion at Suvarnabhumi.