Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has reaffirmed the government's intention to expand Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports to cope with growing tourism.
Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan said the premier has highlighted the need to expand the country's two main airports to handle the growing number of tourists arriving in Bangkok.
In a show of moral support for airport staff, Ms Yingluck visited Don Mueang airport yesterday after it was re-opened for full commercial operations. She said the airport's re-opening demonstrated the government's commitment to its dual-airport policy.
The Transport Ministry and related agencies should carry on their work to modernise the old airport, which serves low-cost airlines and non-connecting flights, she said.
The modernisation is expected to help increase the country's capacity to welcome more tourists, a key foreign exchange earner.
Mr Jarupong said Terminal 2 at Don Mueang is undergoing improvement work, which will be completed next year. Flights currently go through Terminal 1 of the airport. Previously, the two terminals served international flights when Don Mueang was still the country's main airport.
Don Mueang needs more usable space to accommodate the increasing presence of budget carriers, Mr Jarupong said.
Plans to expand Suvarnabhumi airport are also in the works.
"The return of commercial operations at Don Mueang will help ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi," the minister said. "We need to think ahead as construction will take three to five years."
AOT president Aniruth Thanomkulbut said essential equipment such as conveyor belts are being replaced at Terminal 2 at Don Mueang.
He said two or three low-cost foreign airlines have expressed interest in using Don Mueang. Talks with the airlines are pending.
At full capacity, the terminal is able to handle up to nine million passengers a year.
Thai Airways International (THAI) chairman Ampon Kitti-ampon said the board has instructed Sorajak Kasemsuvan, the national carrier's new president, to map out next year's management master plan and come up with marketing strategies to boost the airline's profit by the end of the year.
Mr Ampon set a goal of between 6-8% annual income growth with an annual pre-tax profit of about 30 billion baht.
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- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook