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Minister brakes Don Muang plans


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Extracted from the Bangkok Post


(BangkokPost.com, TNA)


Transport Minister Thira Haocharoen put the brakes on a proposal to move some flights back to Don Muang from the new Suvarnabhumi Airport, and said much more talking lay ahead before such a scheme could happen.


There will be, for example, "another workshop to brainstorm a conclusion on the matter late this month or early next month," he said.


The board of Airports of Thailand Plc on Thursday approved the use of Don Muang for domestic flights and set March 15 as the possible date for the relaunch of the old airport.


Adm Thira scoffed. He said the resolution by the AoT board had no authority, and any such plan would have to be submitted for Cabinet approval.


Decision-makers needed to heed the opinions of all parties concerned in the private and public sectors again. The workshop would lead to resolution of the issue.


"The move of domestic flights to the Don Muang Airport will have wide-ranging repercussions. So, it needs to be studied in detail with caution," said the minister.


"The news that the matter will go before a cabinet meeting in one or two weeks and that domestic flight services will be re-launched within one to two months cannot yet be affirmed. We need first to consider to the opinions of all parties concerned," he said.


Don Muang airport accommodated almost 39 million passengers a year before ending more than 90 years service to regular flights September 27. It currently services only chartered and special flights.


Thai Airways International president Apinan Sumanaseni said the AoT board's decision regarding domestic flights should be considered an impractical idea since it could affect schedules of domestic flights linking provinces.


For instance, he said, the Mae Hong Son-Pitsanulok-Bangkok flight could not be scheduled under the scheme.


So, he believed the matter would not yet be wrapped up. It needs renewed discussions with all parties concerned, particularly between aviation firms, the Transport Ministry and AoT.


Tassapol Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia, shared the view of the THAI president, saying the opening of domestic flights with no connections with other routes was not practicable.


Should the scheme be implemented, the company would experience difficulties in managing its fleet of aircraft since there would need to be shuttles between planes for domestic and international flights.


However, in any case he believed the AoT board's resolution would need endorsement by the Transport Ministry.


But if the resolution won approval for implementation, he insisted, his company would not relocate its domestic flight services to Don Muang.

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