Oneworld, one of the world's three largest airline alliances, has set the record straight _ none of its 12 full members has expressed any interest in moving the group's Bangkok base to Don Mueang airport from Suvarnabhumi.
Oneworld’s full-member airlines are not interested in switching to Don Mueang airport.
The alliance, which includes giants such as British Airways and American Airlines, has denied a suggestion by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) that the group was keen to relocate its operation to Bangkok's old airport.
Michael Blunt, Oneworld's vice-president for corporate communications, cited flight connectivity constraints and service quality for premium passengers as key impediments.
"Don Mueang does not offer anywhere near the same level of flight connectivity as Suvarnabhumi and lags far behind in terms of services geared towards the premium passengers that are Oneworld's prime focus," he said.
Oneworld's focus is on frequent international travellers, primarily business travellers whose needs cannot be met by one single airline and who expect high-quality service on their journey.
"We are in the business of connecting the networks of our quality member airlines as seamlessly as possible, with the type of quality service that our market demands, in the air and on the ground," Mr Blunt said.
Its airlines endeavour to jointly locate their operations at major hub airports, where they and partner carriers can provide multiple flight connections supported by smooth, high-quality infrastructure on the ground for transfers, lounges, security and immigration.
While member airlines can choose which airports they serve, none has indicated any desire to move to Don Mueang, Mr Blunt said.
Newly appointed AoT chairman Sqn Ldr Sita Divari told reporters on March 27 that Oneworld was interested in shifting to Don Mueang. He even suggested that the alliance had proposed the airport be upgraded to handle double-decker A380 superjumbos, an undertaking that might cost 10 billion baht.
Sqn Ldr Sita's statement was made to support the AoT board's latest decision to turn Don Mueang into a fully functional airport to serve all kinds of domestic and international flights, not just budget airlines and charter flights.
AoT has been facing an uphill task to woo airlines to operate out of Don Mueang and relieve congestion at Suvarnabhumi, which last year processed more than 50 million passengers, 5 million more than its capacity.
Don Mueang was ravaged by the 2011 great flood that shut down the century-old facility for five months.
Mr Blunt also underscored the global airline industry's advocacy of having one major airport serving a city.
"Oneworld believes Bangkok, like all major cities, is best served by developing one major airport as its hub for all full-service airlines, providing maximum connection opportunities with high-quality services," he said.
Mr Blunt made it clear that Oneworld has never advocated the development of Don Mueang as a second full-service hub for Bangkok and has no interest in seeing any of its member airlines move there.
"Flight connectivity is reduced by splitting operations of connecting airlines between two airports. Cities that develop competing full-service airports risk reducing their attractiveness as an aviation hub," he warned.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business