Airport mulls plans to cope with protest as flights cut

Airport mulls plans to cope with protest as flights cut

Suvarnabhumi airport officials will decide on Monday on a plan to mitigate disruption caused by the People's Democratic Reform Committee's (PDRC) intended shutdown of Bangkok next week.

The move follows reports that at least three airlines have decided to reduce flights to Bangkok from the middle of this month to avoid the political conflict. They are Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Hong Kong Airlines.

Airport general manager Rawewan Netrakavesna said on Sunday Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific planned to cut the number of flights to Bangkok by merging certain flights with others due to fewer passenger numbers.

But none of these airlines has confirmed plans to reduce flights so far, she said.

Normally, any airline wanting to reduce the number of flights from that arranged with Suvarnabhumi airport is required to notify the airport about the changes well in advance, Ms Rawewan said.

"We've learned that Singapore Airlines plans to cut 19 flights between Jan 14 and Feb 25. Cathay will probably follow suit because passengers are uneasy about the political situation in Thailand," she said.

Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt also confirmed reports about Singapore Airlines' plan to reduce flights to Bangkok.

He said he had also received a report that Hong Kong Airlines was likely to cut about 60 flights to Thailand this month.

Mr Chadchart said insurance companies in Hong Kong are hesitating to provide services for the airlines' Thailand flights so airlines in Hong Kong are considering cancelling these flights.

A source at Airports of Thailand Plc said some Chinese airlines in Shenzhen are considering cancelling flights to Bangkok as well.

Ms Rawewan said she would meet the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta) and the Airline Operators Committee to discuss how to deal with possible impacts on business by the mass protest on Jan 13.

The airport would ask Atta to group its passengers in small numbers and take them to check in at Makkasan Airport Rail Link station, she said.

The groups could then travel to the airport by Airport Link trains, instead of travelling by car, which would probably be affected by road blockades.

Ms Rawewan said she has also prepared park and ride spaces near the airport in the event that traffic to Suvarnabhumi airport becomes too congested to enter the airport. Passengers would be transferred to the airport from the reserved car park by airport shuttle bus. which will increase in frequency.

For Don Mueang airport, plans are also being hatched to minimise disruption. General manager Chaturongkapon Sodmanee said if traffic is too blocked for passengers to reach the airport, the air cargo building will be turned into a temporary car park.

The Transport Ministry also would arrange a short shuttle train service between Don Muang station in front of the airport and Laksi station, in case Vibhavadi Rangsit Road is blocked.

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