The Thai government has approved a scheme to redevelop Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport and use it as a base for more domestic and low-cost flights.
The scheme, proposed by Airports of Thailand (AoT), is designed to relieve pressure on the Thai capital’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi, which is currently undergoing runway repair work.
Under the plan, which was rubber-stamped on Wednesday, Don Mueang will now undergo a THB1.6 billion (US$50.9m) development project, upgrading runways and other facilities. Once this is complete, the airport will handle an increasing number of domestic and low-cost airlines. The northern Bangkok airport is already home to domestic LCC Nok Air, and Thai AirAsia has been attempting to convince AoT to give it a dedicated terminal at Don Meuang.
Suvarnabhumi will remain the city’s main airport for international flights throughout the runway repairs.
Don Mueang served as Bangkok’s main airport until 2006, handling up to 38 million passengers per year. This dwindled to around two million however, following the opening of Suvarnabhumi in September 2006. In the six years since its opening however, Suvarnabhumi has already outgrown itself. The hub handled almost 48 million passengers in 2011 – about four million more than its planned capacity. Late last year AoT announced plans to speed up the second phase of Suvarnabhumi’s development, taking capacity to 65 million passengers per year by 2016.
Meanwhile, an AoT official was reported by MCOT as saying yesterday that the ongoing runway repairs at Suvarnabhumi caused the delay 104 flights – almost 13% of the airport’s total daily traffic.