Pattaya Daily News

08 February 2007 :: 15:02:25 pm 25953

Reopening of Don Muang Airport to relieve pressure on Suvarnabhumi draws nearer

The partial solution to Suvarnabhumi’s current problems with manpower and runway repairs is gaining momentum as plans are apparently being consolidated to divert flights to Bangkok’s old Don Muang Airport. Ms Kulya Pakakrong, Acting President of the Airports of Thailand, is leading the team currently re-assessing the total financial costs of renovating Don Muang Airport which will initially be presented to the Transport Minister, Thira Haocharoen and later, the cabinet, hopefully within the next fortnight.
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If all goes well, Don Muang should be ready for business 45 days following the presentation to the cabinet. Initial estimates for renovation of between 60-70 million Baht had to be revised when it was decided not only to use Don Muang as the domestic hub, but also to divert some international traffic.

When the transfer is complete, repair work on the runways at Suvarnabhumi can begin in earnest and solutions to other problems can also be addressed. The Thai Airport Authorities don’t foresee any great problems in the transfer as Don Muang continued to receive private and charter during flights the interim and it is not considered necessary to recruit new air-traffic control staff to handle the increased traffic.

All this sounds fine in practice, but several disquieting noises are being made about the feasibility of the operation in certain quarters. For instance, no information is forthcoming from the cabinet about exactly which airlines would be diverted or how transit passengers are to be conveyed between Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang.

The President of the Board of Airline Representatives in Thailand, Mr. Brian Sinclair-Thompson, has complained at the lack of communication between his organisation, which represents foreign airlines flying to Thailand, and the government. Sinclair-Thompson also stressed the need for a realistic feasibility study and adequate strategic planning. He also voiced his concern about political machinations by the present military-backed government in its attempts to vilify the previous government of Thaksin Shinawatra. In Sinclair-Thompson’s opinion, the runway cracks are not excessive or life-threatening and he drew parallels with Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur Airports, which had also suffered similar problems on start-up.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Tourism News

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