Pattaya Daily News

31 January 2007 :: 12:01:51 pm 25980

Timing of Don Muang Airport domestic reopening critical for Songkran

BANGKOK, Jan 31 - Renovation of the 90-year-old Bangkok Airport at Don Muang to ready it for its re-launch is proceeding at full speed and airport officials are confident the facility would be re-opened in 45 days for non-connecting domestic flights.
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Transport Minister Thira Haocharoen on Tuesday expressed hope to see the recently-decommissioned Don Muang International Airport reopen for domestic flights prior to the Songkran (Thai New Year) festival so that it could serve a large number of inbound and outbound passengers.

Airport manager Flight Lieutenant Pinit Saraithong affirmed that Don Muang can be ready in time for the Songkran (Thai New Year) rush, but the plan needs to be approved first by the cabinet, which may consider the plan on February 6.

Lieutenant Pinit said the repair work would concentrate on the west runway where sections are being resurfaced, which will take some 45 days. This year Thai New Year begins Friday April 13 and extends through Monday April 16.

But Admiral Thira said that as the plan is not yet finalised, it is not certain how long renovations will require and whether the proposed deadline can be met. He conceded the ministry needed to wait for the cabinet’s decision on the transfer first. Should the cabinet disapprove of the transfer, the plan must be adjusted.

The new scheme must state clearly who is responsible for the task and how it would be carried out, Adm. Thira said, and that the airport must give utmost importance to safety concerns. Whether the transfer would take place before the Songkran Festival remains uncertain.

Minister Thira said he had assigned the Civil Aviation Department to meet with state agencies concerned to work out details of transferring some local flights back to Don Muang airport.

Lt. Pinit said other service infrastructure including airport shops, restaurants, passenger terminals, taxis and other transport links would be ready within a month. Total renovation budget stood at Bt33 million.

He accompanied reporters inspecting progress at Don Muang on Tuesday.

The old airport was decommissioned as Bangkok’s primary airport in September when Suvarnabhumi was opened.

But cracks in the new airport’s runways and taxiways prompted the Transport Ministry to recommend Monday to reopen Don Muang airport temporarily for domestic flights with no international connections to ease the burden on the new airport.

According to Lt. Pinit, Terminal 1 at Don Muang will be the main terminal servicing chartered flights. He expects about 5 million passengers to pass through Don Muang airport this year.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Tourism News

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