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be to lower charges at Don Muang "maybe soon",
attracting more traffic and generating more revenue
for investments. However, this must not lead to Don
Muang becoming a permanent 'poor cousin' or rival
to the more modern Suvarnabhumi. "We wouldn't
want to see much difference in cost structure,"
Sittipunt told Asian Aviation.
Backing for a lot of this is led by IATA, which
endorses the view that Don Muang should be available
to airlines and aviation services, but should remain
supplementary to the newer gateway. This is not about
returning to the past, but about Thailand's likely future
capacity needs, according to the organisation.
"Dong Muang can fulfil a vital role of relief capacity
in the short term. But the long-term solution is a
single strong hub for Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi,"
IATA said. This is because airlines neither want, nor
need, the cost of duplicated capacity.
According to local news reports, Thai transport
minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan has met with
Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia, to
discuss relocating the low-cost carrier to Don Muang.
"We are talking with low-cost airlines, and AirAsia
is willing to shift to Don Muang if the government's
policy does not change too much," Dr Virabongsa
Ramakura, chairman of the Strategic Committee
for Reconstruction and Future Development, told
the Bangkok Post newspaper. (The report was
subsequently posted on the Airports of Thailand
web site, suggesting official endorsement, if not yet
One possibility is a deal where, in exchange for
discounts on parking and landing fees, a number
of carriers would transfer to Don Muang to ease
congestion at Suvarnabhumi. Dr Virabongsa was
quoted by another newspaper as saying that the
government believes passenger throughput at Don
Muang could reach 12 million a year.
There are, of course, a number of problems with this.
Airlines are concerned that they may move back to
Don Muang only to see the policy to change again.
Connections are another issue.
One of the things that gives Suvarnabhumi an
edge is the connections it offers to both onward
flights and land transportation. According to some,
a shuttle bus service is being considered to link the
Given the surplus of national capacity referred to
by Sittipunt, as well as the current policy focus on
fine-tuning the Bangkok airport duopoly, it seems
unlikely that any public money will be directed in the
foreseeable future towards building a second, public
airport on the tourist-favoured island of Koh Samui.
The existing airport on the island is a private facility
owned and operated by Bangkok Airways, which has
led to complaints of a monopoly by the carrier, and
about high landing fees.
The government is studying the situation, but
seems unlikely to intervene, Sittipunt said.
"We are gathering the information on that," he
told Asian Aviation, adding that there are two likely
barriers to a new airport. One problem "is the
environmental-impact assessment and noise."
The other is seemingly government reluctance to
step in, especially with ambitious plans underway to
develop other areas of the country's transportation
infrastructure. "If they [private companies] can do
well we should leave [it to them]," Sittipunt said.
"Don Muang can fulfil a vital role of
relief capacity in the short term. But the
long-term solution is a single strong hub
for Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi." -- IATA
Bangkok's older, smaller Don Muang airport may be used to
relieve the pressure on Suvarnabhumi TAXING ISSUES
Bangkok Airways has won an important tax
case that, if it had lost, would have seen it
pay a significant sum to local authorities on
the tourist island of Koh Samui, where the
company operates the only airport.
International lawyers Baker & McKenzie
successfully represented Bangkok Airways
in litigation before Thailand's Central
Tax Court regarding a THB117 million
(US$3.75 million) house and land tax
assessment imposed on its property fund by
the Koh Samui Municipality.
"The Court, which agreed with Bangkok
Airways and Baker & McKenzie, fully
dismissed the tax assessment and ordered
the Municipality to return contested tax
payments, plus statutory interest, to the
airline," the law firm said in a press release.
It is unlikely that similar cases will be
brought against public airports as "they do
not have similar features that could trigger
the dispute" the law firm said. However,
such cases may be of concern to private
companies and property developers involved
airport construction and development.
"This type of operation funding scheme is
also used by other real property developers
and therefore this case can be used as
precedent of those real property businesses.
In short, this case can potentially provide
another funding scheme which does not
trigger any house and land tax, subject to
the final ruling of the Supreme Court on the
appeal case," said Baker & McKenzie's
Bangkok-based corporate and commercial
partner Peerapan Tungsuwan and tax
partner Chinawat Assavapokee, in a joint
statement to Asian Aviation.
AIRPORTS OF THAILAND
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