Thai Airways, domestic airlines say ready to test new Bangkok airport next month


BANGKOK (XFNews-ASIA) - Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and four other Thai airlines said they are confident that Bangkok's new international airport can handle test flights next month, but added they still doubt that all flights can move there in September.

The airlines are due to conduct test flights to the new airport on July 29.

To encourage passengers to buy tickets for the 24 flights, the airport authority has waived fees and airlines are offering steep discounts to destinations around Thailand.

"There will be flights flying from many destinations nationwide to the new airport on July 29, so people around the country can join the event," said Chotisak Asapaviriya, president of Airports of Thailand Plc.

Vasing Kittikul, Thai Airways' executive vice president, said ticket prices have been cut by 25-50 pct for the test flights to the new airport.

"They are real flights which anybody can take," he told reporters.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra insisted on Monday that the 3.7-bln-usd airport will open to normal commercial traffic in September.

"On September 28, Suvarnabhumi will be fully functional and replace Don Muang as the country's main international airport," he told reporters.

"All the parties involved have confirmed their readiness for the new airport to open on September. Almost all of the problems had been fixed and the systems at the new airport comply with international standards."

But some airlines still question the opening date.

"The airport still has day-to-day problems to overcome along the way," discount carrier Nok Air's executive president Sehapan Chumsai told Agence France-Presse.

"The authorities are determined to stick to the scheduled opening date, but how much of their effort will translate into success is another question," he said.

The new airport, some 25 kilometers east of the capital, will relieve traffic congestion at Bangkok's current Don Muang airport which currently accommodates 38.5 mln passengers annually although it was designed to handle only 36.0 mln.

Thailand's cabinet yesterday approved the creation of a new city in a 10-kilometer radius from the airport.

The planned city is expected to require an investment of 135 bln baht. Suvarnabhumi town will be granted special administrative status by the government.

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