Bangkok’s nearly century-old Don Muang airport reopened to domestic flights Sunday to ease the crowds at the city’s troubled new airport, authorities said.
Don Muang was one of Asia’s busiest hubs until it was shuttered in September, following the opening of the sparkling new Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Some 140 flights carrying 20,000 passengers daily are now set to use the airport, beloved by many for its quirks – including a golf course between the main runways – and its relatively easy access to downtown Bangkok.
The revived airport’s first flight took off for flag carrier Thai Airways at 6:00 am for the northeastern city of Ubon Ratchathani, an airline spokesman said.
A sign draped across the check-in counters read: “Welcome back to Don Muang.”
“Don Muang has reopened and is running smoothly,” said a spokeswoman.
Thai Airways is keeping some flights to popular tourist destinations like Phuket and Chiang Mai at Suvarnabhumi in hopes of minimizing inconvenience to the more than 13 million holidaymakers who visit Thailand each year.
Two other airlines, low-cost carriers Nok Airways and One-Two-Go, have moved their flights to Don Muang but international carriers have refused to leave Suvarnabhumi.
Don Muang had been shuttered six months ago as officials hoped Suvarnabhumi would establish Bangkok as Southeast Asia’s preeminent air hub. Instead, the three-billion-dollar facility has been plagued by problems.
Officials say that moving domestic flights to the old airport will ease overcrowding at Suvarnabhumi and make it easier to repair the runways and fix other problems