BANGKOK, June 25 – Thai AirAsia, Thailand’s largest low-cost air carrier, will relocate its operations base from Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang Airport Oct 1, Thai AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Tassapon Bijleveld announced on Monday.
Airports of Thailand (AoT) President Anirut Thanomkulbutra today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld on the airline’s plan to return to Don Mueang.
Mr Anirut said that Don Mueang Airport is ready to provide full services and that AoT is aiming to persuade at least 14 airlines to shift their operations back to the Thai capital’s original international gateway.
Apart from Thai AirAsia, three or four other airlines have already agreed to move their services to Don Mueang.
He added that AoT also offered substantial fee discounts to attract airlines to return to Don Mueang, including a 95 per cent reduction on fees for aircraft takeoff and landing, fee reduction for check-in counter services, as well as office renting.
The AoT president said that Don Mueang airport operated 40,903 flights in 2011, with some 3.4 million passengers from low-cost carriers NokAir and Orient Thai. The airport has a capacity of 36.5 million passengers a year.
Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon confirmed that the relocation of the airline to Don Mueang will be permanent and it will not return to Suvarnabhumi even after the completion of the second-phase construction of the country’s main airport.
The airline’s operation base will move to Don Mueang Oct 1 and will occupy 70 per cent of Terminal 1, using four of the six check-in counters, he said.
Mr Tassapon noted that Thai AirAsia decided to return to Don Mueang airport due to the improved convenience for passengers and ground operations including the efficiency of the check-in system as well as runway and taxiway lengths which are much shorter than that of Suvarnabhumi Airport, saving the company’s several hundreds million of baht of fuel costs annually.
Thai AirAsia’s domestic and international flights currently serve eight million passengers, and the number of passengers is expected to rise to nine million next year.
Another no-frills airline, Nok Air, is now operating flights from Don Mueang with three million passengers a year on average.