Airlines Fret Over Thai Airport Reopening

BANGKOK ~ International airlines warned this week that reopening Bangkok’s old Don Muang airport could prove costly and confusing for the millions of tourists who play a key role in the Thai economy.

Thailand‘s military-installed government opted on Tuesday to reopen the nearly century-old air hub to allow a host of problems at the sparkling new Suvarnabhumi Airport to be fixed, catching the aviation industry by surprise.

“For Bangkok to be a strong aviation hub in the region, the long-term vision should still be to have a single airport operation,” said Albert Tjoeng, a Singapore-based spokesman for the International Air Transport Association, the global airline industry group.

“Two airports will split passengers, airlines, the AOT’s resources and will lead to lower cost-efficiency and inconvenience for passengers,” Tjoeng said.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) operates the troubled Suvarnabhumi Airport, which opened in September to replace Don Muang.

On Tuesday, the government said the move back to Don Muang would allow more than 100 cracks on runways and taxiways to be repaired at Suvarnabhumi, as well as ease traffic congestion at the new airport.

The US$3-billion Suvarnabhumi Airport, named “Golden Land” in Thai, was supposed to be a gleaming symbol of modern Thailand.

But it has been mired in problems since opening, including the cracks, corruption claims, inadequate toilets and complaints about hygiene standards.

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