Thailand will not force airlines back to old airport - minister


Bangkok (XFN-ASIA) - Thailand said it will not force airlines

to move back to Bangkok's old Don Muang airport, which will re-open due to mounting

problems at the kingdom's new aviation hub.

"We will stick to voluntary principles and listen to their opinions before making4a decision," Transport Minister Thira Haocharoen told reporters.

Since the army-backed government announced the re-opening of the nearly century-old air hub this month, only a handful of carriers have said they want to return their operations to Don Muang.

Asian airlines last week called on Thailand to urgently hold discussions with carriers to iron out concerns over the re-opening of the old airport, and Thira said the ministry would hold talks with airline executives Thursday.
The government insisted the re-opening of the old airport is necessary to allow repairs to a host of problems at the new Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The transport minister supported a recommendation by a panel of investigators that the government would not shut down the airport, which opened in September, during repair work.

"Suvarnabhumi has not reached a crisis level where it needs to be closed entirely," he said. "We have already invested massively in the new airport development, so it cannot be shut down."

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