Bangkok second airport, Don Mueang has resumed flight operations four months after it was forced to close due to severe flooding.
The hub, in northern Bangkok, will reopen today following a ceremony presided over by Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. More than THB1.5 billion (US$48.2 million) has been invested in repairing the airport since it closed on 26 October 2011, when images of aircraft stranded in floodwaters made headlines around the world.
Thai Airways (THAI) resumed maintenance operations at Don Mueang in December 2011, but significant repairs were needed before flight operations could resume.
But with all repair work now complete, THAI’s domestic low-cost subsidiary, Nok Air will resume scheduled services from the airport today. Nok had been operating from Suvarnabhumi airport since the closure, but all services will be moved back to Don Meuang from today.
One airline that won’t be returning to Don Mueang however, is Orient Thai. The carrier said recently that it would stay at Suvarnabhumi to avoid unnecessary upheaval.
Don Mueang acted as Bangkok’s main air hub until Suvarnabhumi opened in 2006. Since then debate has raged as to the positioning of Don Mueang, with IATA saying recently that it supported a single airport policy in Bangkok. Thai AirAsia and THAI’s new regional low-cost unit, Thai Smile however, have expressed interest in using Don Mueang.
At its peak, Don Mueang handled 38 million passengers a year, but this has been reduced to just three million since the launch of Suvarnabhumi.