Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport reopened yesterday, with AirAsia its anchor client.
In a ceremony complete with pop music, clowns on stilts and a fashion show, the airport’s relaunch was in stark contrast to the images that hit the press this time last year, when severe floods inundated the hub, forcing its closure.
But following a major development and modernisation effort, Don Mueang has been reborn as a new key airport for Bangkok, offering domestic and international flights from AirAsia and Thai Airways’ low-cost carrier, Nok Air.
Tax refund, duty-free and visa-on-arrival services will all be available. There will be 34 immigration counters dealing with departures and 26 for arrivals. There will also be a free shuttle bus linking Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports, operating between 5am and 11pm.
“Less congestion and shorter taxi time will result in less fuel consumption and less delays. For our passengers, they will be able to enjoy Don Mueang’s close proximity to the city and less time for the entire travel process. At Don Mueang, it only takes 30 minutes from check-in to the boarding gate and passengers will benefit from this hassle-free experience,” said Thai AirAsia’s CEO, Tassapon Bijleveld.
The opening marks the start of a busy week and final quarter for Thai AirAsia. On Thursday it sees services to Yangon increase to three times a day and the start of four weekly services to Mandalay. Later in the month sees the commencement of daily flights to Wuhan, while services to Xi’an begin on 16 November. And Bijleveld told reporters that China represented a key part of the airline’s expansion strategy, with “three to four” more Chinese destinations expected to be added next year.
“We are going to give a lot of importance to China,” he said via an interpreter.
This is woven into Thai Air Asia’s plan to expand its fleet and route map. Currently 25 strong, Thai AirAsia’s fleet will rise to 27 by the end of the year. During 2013, according to Bijleveld, it will add for or five more and by the end of 2016 its aim is to have 48 Airbus A320 aircraft.