The AirAsia Group of low-cost airlines has appealed to the Thai government to convert Bangkok’s old Don Muang Airport into a hub for budget carriers.
The Group’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes says the lack of a low-cost carrier (LCC) terminal in Bangkok is hampering the growth of such airlines. “The high international passenger service charge of 700 baht (US$21.9) at Bangkok’s [main] Suvarnabhumi International Airport should be reduced to make it more attractive for tourists to visit Thailand,” Fernandes adds.
Passenger arrivals in Thailand have dropped 43 percent since the deadly political unrest began in Bangkok in March.
“This is the time for the Thai authorities to do something quick by turning Don Muang into a low-cost airport and bringing back the tourists, and at the same time doing something for LCCs,” Fernandes says.
A spokesman for government-backed Airports of Thailand (AOT) says the agency has no funds or plans to convert Don Muang into a LCC Airport.
This is the second time Fernandes has appealed to the Thai government for a low-cost terminal or airport. Last year, he asked AOT to build a dedicated LCC terminal at Suvarnabhumi. This request was promptly shot down by the Ministry of Finance, the majority stake-holder in AOT, which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
Earlier, in 2005, the former government of Thaksin Shinawatra called off plans to build an LCC terminal at Suvarnabhumi, saying that it was not necessary and the government did not have the funding for it, as the cost of building the new airport had escalated.
In Malaysia, AirAsia’s request to the government to build an LCC airport in Labu, in the state of Negri Sembilan, has also been turned down.
The AirAsia Group comprises Kuala Lumpur based AirAsia, long-haul carrier AirAsia X, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia.