Use Don Muang dur­ing re­pairs: 2 air­lines

The Nation - - BUSINESS - The Na­tion

Bangkok Air­ways and Thai AirAsia have urged the gov­ern­ment to move do­mes­tic flights back to Don Muang tem­po­rar­ily so that Su­varn­ab­humi Air­port can be par­tially shut down for re­pairs to cracked taxi­ways.

Bangkok Air­ways CEO Prasert Prasart­thong-osoth yes­ter­day said mov­ing do­mes­tic flights to Don Muang would al­low Air­ports of Thai­land, Su­varn­ab­humi’s op­er­a­tor, to close parts of the new air­port for re­pair with­out caus­ing prob­lems to air traf­fic as hap­pened two days ago.

The move would ease the traf­fic at Su­varn­ab­humi by 30 per cent, he said. “The old air­port can still serve air­lines,” he added.

His com­ments fol­lowed the air traf­fic prob­lems on Thurs­day at Su­varn­ab­humi when a num­ber of flights were forced to cir­cle around the air­port or di­vert to UTa­pao mil­i­tary air­field, as de­bris was found on the west­ern run­way which was closed for re­pairs.

Thai Air­ways In­ter­na­tional pres­i­dent Apinan Su­maseni said af­ter a board meet­ing yes­ter­day that if traf­fic prob­lems con­tinue at Su­varn­ab­humi, THAI would need to stock more fuel.

Se­ha­pan Chum­sai na Ayut­thaya, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for mar­ket­ing at Nok Air, said that each di­ver­sion to U-Tapao cost an air­line Bt100,000-Bt200,000 de­pend­ing on air­craft size.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Theera Haocharoen said on Thurs­day that the re­pairs could be car­ried out with­out hav­ing to move flights to Don Muang.

But Prasert, whose com­pany built air­ports at Koh Sa­mui, Trat and Sukhothai, sug­gested that the only way to mend the cracks caused by in­fe­rior build­ing ma­te­ri­als was to lay new foun­da­tions. The re­con­struc­tion would take at least 15 to 18 months and cost about Bt50 bil­lion.

He pointed out that since the run­ways need fix­ing, the re­sponsi- ble par­ties might as well fix other prob­lems within the air­port too: the se­vere lack of toi­lets, light­ing, space, con­veyor belts and shut­tle buses. The mal­func­tion­ing on­line im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, which is sup­posed to link to a global sys­tem, has also al­lowed il­le­gal im­mi­grants to slip in.

“ The air­port author­ity should in­stall new fa­cil­i­ties, in­stead of fix­ing them,” he said.

Prasert added that the run­way cracks had been caused by the mis­use of coarse-grain sand, which failed to ab­sorb wa­ter. Ex­pired ce­ment wors­ened the al­ready frac­tured sur­face.

As a re­sult of its pre­ma­ture open­ing and bar­gain-qual­ity con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, Su­varn­ab­humi Air­port has yet to pass the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s safety over­sight au­dit.

“Many air­lines have lost faith in the safety of the new air­port and have turned to use neigh­bour­ing coun­tries’ air­ports. The gov­ern­ment should quickly solve this prob­lem be­fore there is a cri­sis,” said Prasert.

Tas­s­apon Be­jleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, also pro­posed that the gov­ern­ment move all do­mes­tic and some in­ter­na­tional flights back to Don Muang air­port to avoid air traf­fic con­ges­tion while re­pair­ing the taxi­way and run­way at Su­varnnab­humi.

Thai AirAsia wants to move all its op­er­a­tions from Su­varn­ab­humi to Don Muang to re­duce its op­er­at­ing costs and make it eas­ier for pas­sen­gers con­nect­ing be­tween its do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional flights.

Nok Air and One Two Go have also urged agen­cies to re­open Don Muang air­port as a do­mes­tic air­port.

Chaisak Angka­suwan, di­rec­tor­gen­eral of the Civil Avi­a­tion De­part­ment, said the de­part­ment and re­lated bod­ies – in­clud­ing Air­ports of Thai­land, Aero­nau­ti­cal Ra­dio of Thai­land and Thai Air­ways In­ter­na­tional – would meet on Mon­day to reach a con­clu­sion about us­ing Don Muang air­port.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Thailand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.