It had faded away in travelers’ memories over the last five years. But from August 1, visitors will be able to remember how spacious and pretty rational was the design of the old international terminal at Bangkok Don Muang Airport. With the closure of Bangkok domestic terminal – to be reconverted into an aviation maintenance center – all the traffic from low-cost carriers Nok Air and Orient Thai is moving to Terminal 1 at Don Muang. They will join smaller carriers such as Solar Air or Thai Regional Airlines, as well as some international charter flights, which are still using Don Muang airport since the transfer of all scheduled international airlines to Suvarnabhumi airport. The move was delayed for two months due to the complexity of finding an agreement among related parties.
Airports of Thailand (AOT), the state company running Thailand’s six largest international airports, spent in the last months some THB 13 million (US$433,000) for the renovation of the facility. Space has been increased by 40% and new shops installed. In total, Terminal 1 will be able to welcome some 16 million passengers a year, almost four times more than the expected passengers traffic at Don Muang for 2011, around four million passengers.
Growth at the airport this year reached 44%, mostly due to the launching of many new flights by low-cost carrier Nok Air. The carrier recently increased its capacity from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket, and opened new flights to Narathiwat, as well as to Loei, Roi-Et, and Sakhon Nakhon with regional partners. Orient Thai recently launched a daily flight to Udon Thani.
Don Muang scheduled domestic activity will, however, be limited in time. AOT executive board approved on Friday, Suvarnabhumi airport’s expansion. Until 2024, capacity at Bangkok main airport will be multiplied by 2.5 at over 100 million passengers. The first phase will see the construction of a third runway and a domestic terminal with an initial capacity for 20 million passengers. Due to be opened by 2016, it will then take over all domestic traffic from Don Muang by integrating all activities from Nok Air and Orient Thai. Don Muang Terminal 1 will then close to scheduled airlines except if Thailand’s future governments change again their mind. Over the last five years, plans to revitalize or provide new life life to Don Muang Airport were altered at least five times.