Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thai Airways waves goodbye to old Bangkok airport

Bangkok - Thailand's national airline said Friday that it would stop flying this month out of Bangkok's domestic airport and move all its flights to the capital's much bigger and newer Suvarnabhumi international airport.

   The remaining 23 daily domestic flights that remain at the 95-year-old Don Mueang would be moved March 29 to Suvarnabhumi, which opened in late 2006, said Narongsak Sangapong, Thai Airways International PCL's acting president.

   Narongsak said the move to cut its ties with the old airport would promote Suvarnabhumi as the country's aviation hub in line with government policy and help the Star Alliance, to which Thai Airways belongs, by making it easier for passengers to make connecting flights.

   The move would also save costs. 'Splitting out operations between two airports costs us a lot in efficiency and money,' Narongsak said. 'We spend a lot on overtime payments to keep the two separate operations going. This move is sensible and inevitable.'

   Don Muang is still used by several budget airlines and charter flights, but it is government policy to bring all scheduled services to Suvarnabhumi within 12 months.

   The 3.9-billion-dollar aviation complex had teething problems, including a cracked runway, faulty engineering and allegations of corruption. Late last year, it and Don Mueang were seized and closed down for a week by anti-government protestors who eventually helped bring down the last government.

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