Shifting the airport bottleneck is working says Suvarnabhumi boss
The re-opening of the old Don Muang International Airport to almost full service capacity in October last year has had the desired effect of reducing the air traffic burden at Suvarnabhumi International Airport according to data released by the Airports of Thailand Plc.
The general manager of Suvarnabhumi, Rawewan Netrakavesna, said the main reason for what was an overall drop of almost seven percent in the first five months of 2013 was the relocation of numerous so-called low-cost carrier airlines to Don Muang.
Nonetheless, Khun Rawewan noted that Suvarnabhumi was already well and truly operating beyond its original capacity of 45 million passengers per annum. This year, with the changes that have been implemented, the main airport will reach around 53 million passengers, up by just one million on 2012.
The general manager said her biggest challenge was to maintain the airport in good operating condition. As Khun Rawewan noted, “Carrying out maintenance is an uphill task, as the airport is heavily in use during most hours of the day. Much of this work can only be done around 2:00 to 4:00am.”
The next challenge is the expansion of the airport to be able to accommodate 60 million passengers, a project that will not be completed for at least another three and a half years.
The successful re-opening of Don Muang has seen a quite significant shift in numbers in terms of domestic and international passenger percentages. This, of course, is no surprise as that was, after all, the intention of re-opening Don Muang, but the numbers do make interesting reading.
Domestic travel through Suvarnabhumi dropped by 39 percent in the first five months of 2013 and, concomitantly, the number of domestic flights dropped by a whopping 42.9 percent.
Obviously, domestic traffic through Don Muang grew enormously, although off what was a small base. The percentages look almost ridiculous, but it’s the actual numbers that are important. In that first five-month period the old airport handled 6.72 million passengers and just over 58,000 flights, of which 16,795 were international. Of the above figures, 4.58 million of the passengers were domestic consumers. Many of these flew with Thai Air Asia and Nok Air.
Also, more flights are bypassing both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang altogether, including a new direct Phuket-Chiang Mai and return service.
For Suvarnabhumi itself, the percentage changes in actual flight arrivals have not been anywhere near as impressive as those at Don Muang. In the data collection period Bangkok’s main international airport still handled 120,900 flights, which represented a drop of 14.8 percent.