Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thai Airways to move flights

FLAG carrier Thai Airways will move all its remaining domestic flights from Bangkok's decades-old Don Mueang airport to its ultra-modern replacement, airline and ministry officials said on Thursday.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport opened to much fanfare in September 2006, but reports of cracks in one of the runways forced some carriers to move their domestic flights back to the creaking Don Mueang just six months later.

'According to a meeting with Thai Airways, the airline is preparing to shift its domestic flights to Suvarnabhumi airport ... this summer,' Somchai Chanrod, a director at the transport ministry, told AFP.

'This shift will help Thai Airways save costs. According to Thai, it will help the company save up to 700 million baht (S$30 million) a year.'

Thai Airways already operates all its international flights and a handful of domestic routes out of Suvarnabhumi, and a spokeswoman for the carrier said the remaining Thai routes would begin shifting to Suvarnabhumi after March 29.

Mr Somchai told AFP that the government did not have an official single airport policy, but said moving most flights to Suvarnabhumi - which has undergone repairs - would help restore confidence in the aviation and tourism sectors.

Anti-government protesters besieged and occupied both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in late November and early December, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers and battering the vital tourism industry.

The Bangkok Post newspaper reported on Thursday that the two other carriers currently using Don Mueang - Thai Airways' low cost arm Nok Air and budget carrier One Two Go - were still mulling whether to move to Suvarnabhumi.