Old Bangkok Airport to Reopen for Domestic Routes

Thailand's airport authority has approved reopening the capital's old airport, Don Muang, for domestic flights, a move that would help reduce operating costs for budget airlines, officials said Friday.

Budget airlines have complained about the higher costs of using Bangkok's new international Suvarnabhumi Airport, which took over domestic and international flights when it opened Sept. 28.

The move, which was approved by the board of the Airports of Thailand, still needs final approval from the government.

If it goes ahead, airlines flying non-transit domestic routes would have the option of moving back to Don Muang, the AOT said in a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Thai Airways recently said it supported calls to reopen Don Muang for domestic flights to avoid paying the higher utility costs and fees charged by the new airport. The national carrier said the move to Suvarnabhumi has added 3.7 billion baht (US$103 million; euro79.5 million) to its operating costs.

The move could also enable AOT to save cash and delay its planned expansion of Suvarnabhumi, which has faced numerous problems since opening, including its baggage handling systems and design flaws. The airport is building more public bathrooms, seating in waiting areas and addressing problems of noise pollution after complaints from travelers and nearby residents.

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