The long, sad saga of Suvarnabhumi

Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, which opened in September to huge publicity and was designed to showcase Thailand as a leading passenger and cargo hub, faced a serious setback in its lofty ambitions last month when the Thai government ordered Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport reopened to both international and domestic flights. The move came after the […]


Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, which opened in September to huge publicity and was designed to showcase Thailand as a leading passenger and cargo hub, faced a serious setback in its lofty ambitions last month when the Thai government ordered Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport reopened to both international and domestic flights.

The move came after the new four-month old US$4 billion Suvarnabhumi Airport faced technical and congestion problems caused by repair work on the airport’s two runways and taxiways to fix several cracks. In addition, aerobridges were not functioning properly and there had been complaints about delays in baggage handling and inadequacies in the sanitary facilities at the new gleaming airport.

As for cargo, freight forwarders have been complaining that processing times at Suvarnabhumi currently range from four to five hours per shipment or nearly twice the time required at the century-old Don Muang airport. Highlighting the overall problems, Thailand’s aviation authority in January declined to renew an international safety certificate for Suvarnabhumi.

Meanwhile, a two-week investigation into about 100 cracks that appeared on the taxiways and runways of the airport, found that the damage was less serious than expected and repairs would probably take not more than a couple of months.