All systems go on Don Mueang's first day

Air traffic and airlines operating at Don Mueang saw smooth operations on its grand reopening after the airport was closed for massive renovations due to last year's floods.

A model presents a souvenir cap to a departing Western passenger at Don Mueang airport on the first day of the facility’s return to full operations. Some 2,000 passengers on Thai AirAsia checked in from 4-7am, although five passengers mistakenly went to Suvarnabhumi airport instead. THITI WANNAMONTHA

A total of 281 domestic and international flights used the airport yesterday, and officials expect 350-370 flights a day in the future.

After most domestic routes moved to Suvarnabhumi airport following the flood, Airports of Thailand (AoT) used incentives to lure regional airlines back to Don Mueang to ease overcrowding at Bangkok's hub.

AirAsia, the region's largest low-cost carrier, is the largest airline to agree to the move.

AOT president Aniruth Thanomkulbut projects the number of passengers will rise, prompting the acceleration of renovation of Terminal 2 to accommodate an additional 9 million passengers.

Terminal 1 can serve 16 million passengers per year.

Terminal 2 is scheduled to offer service next year, and AoT is working to lure more airlines to Don Mueang, up from five presently.

Tassapon Bijleveld, the chief executive of Thai AirAsia (TAA), said service was quite efficient including at the immigration lines. Waiting times were minimal compared with Suvarnabhumi airport.

Luggage X-ray took only two minutes per passenger compared with 10-15 minutes at Suvarnabhumi.

"There are small problems that need to be fixed such as insufficient signs indicating directions in the terminal or on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road," said Mr Tassapon.

AoT will provide more signs in Chinese to facilitate the growing number of tourists from that country.

About 2,000 passengers on TAA checked in from 4-7am at Don Mueang, but five passengers mistakenly went to Suvarnabhumi.

About the author

Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook
Position: Reporter