Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thailand's Don Mueang local flights to be moved to international airport

Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) plans to close the domestic terminal at Don Mueang Airport and move flight operations to Terminal 1 (T1).
The domestic terminal sees fairly light traffic these days, with only Nok and Orient Thai offering regular domestic services.
The relocation means that Nok Airlines and Orient Thai Airlines, the only scheduled carriers operating through the century-old airport, will move in April.
This paves the way for AoT to develop the site around the domestic terminal into an aircraft maintenance centre in the future, said airport general manager Prateep Wichitto.
AoT can also cut costs as T1 was only handling a couple of chartered international flights each month.
The two budget airlines together operate 30 to 40 point-to-point domestic flights per day through the domestic terminal.
AoT is earmarking 19 million baht to redecorate the interior of T1 and upgrade the air-conditioning to facilitate the relocated operations.
The two carriers' executives indicated they would bear the moving costs by themselves, though they said it was too early to know the figures.
Mr Prateep said T1 was connected with the parking building so there would be no inconvenience.
The relocation may form part of a redevelopment of Don Mueang, though the government remains indecisive about the airport's role.
There is a debate about whether the airport should be reactivated for international flights to compete with Suvarnabhumi, Thailand's main airport in Samut Prakan.
Officials have called for Don Mueang to be made into a maintenance centre for small and medium-sized aircraft, a landing gear maintenance centre for narrow-bodied aircraft, an aircraft parts stock management centre, a flight simulator facility, an international free-trade zone or a private jet/air taxi terminal. However, no decision has been made on the issues.

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