Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok currently has two airports serving as its air hubs – The Don Mueang International Airport, known as the Old Bangkok International Airport, and the five-year-old Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which presently serves as the city’s main air traffic center.
Don Mueang International Airport
The Don Mueang International Airport was officially launched as a commercial airport on March 1914. Until five years ago, it was Thailand’s largest air hub, and the 18th busiest airport in the world before it was replaced by the newer Suvarnabhumi International Airport in September 2006.
By March 2007, Don Mueang Airport reopened to serve domestic commercial flights for Thai Airways, Nok Air, and Orient Thai Airlines with underlying government’s plans to eventually utilize the old Bangkok airport as a center for cargo and charter flights, and a military airstrip.
In August 2011, some of the heaviest flooding Thailand has seen in over 50 years inundated the Don Mueang Airport, causing its closure in October of the same year. The airport reopened in early March 2012, but only budget airline Nok Air has resumed flight operations at the Don Mueang.
While it was fully operational, Don Mueang International Airport hosted the following domestic and international airlines flying to the following destinations:
- Thai Airways International –Los Angeles, Johannesburg, China (6 destinations), Hong Kong, Japan (6 destinations), South Korea (2 destinations), Taipei, Dhaka, India (8 destinations), Kathmandu, Pakistan (3 destinations), Colombo, Yangon, Phnom Penh, Indonesia (2 destinations), Vientiane, Malaysia (2 destinations), Manila, Singapore, Thailand (11 destinations), Vietnam (2 destinations), Muscat, Dubai, Brussels, Copenhagen, Paris, Germany (2 destinations), Italy (2 destinations), Oslo, Moscow, Madrid, Stockholm, Zurich, London, Australia (4 destinations), and Auckland.
- Nok Air – Bangkok, Buriram, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Loei, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sot, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Phrae, Phitsanulok, Phuket, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Surat Thani, Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, and Udon Thani.
- Orient Thai Airlines – Hong Kong, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Phuket, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Udon Thani.
The Don Mueang International Airport previously operated with three terminals, pre-flooding. At present, only Terminal 1 is fully functional and currently used by Nok Air. Airports of Thailand (AoT) has expressed its intent to use the inactive Terminal 2 for low-cost carriers, and Terminal 3 for domestic flight passengers.
The airports’ two runways are 3,700 meters and 3,500 meters long respectively, with a golf course owned by RTAF located between them. Both runways have a capacity to handle 60 flights every hour.
Don Mueang features 23 taxiways and 95 parking stands for aircraft: 25 parking stands with contact gates at the international terminal, eight parking stands with contact gates at the domestic terminal, and the remaining 62 used as remote parking bays.
The airport has 124 check-in counters for Terminal 1, 96 check-in counter for Terminal 2, and 43 check-in counters for domestic passengers at Terminal 3.
Don Mueang Airport facilities include an information service, two commercial banking service counters, several currency exchange counters, public telephones for domestic and overseas calls, two restaurants, a snack bar and fast food retail outlet, express photo service, sticker machines, video recording service, an airport medical clinic, a tour service counter, a lost and found department, baggage services, and a car park with a 500-car capacity.
A taxi stand is located outside the airport terminal, and so is the Amari Don Mueang Airport Hotel with its restaurants and convention facilities that caters to business and leisure travelers.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport: The Sixth Busiest Airport In Asia
The Suvarnabhumi International Airport is one of Bangkok’s main hubs for most of Thailand’s domestic and international flights. The airport is located in the Samut Prakan Province, 25 kilometers away from downtown Bangkok in the Bang Phli’s Racha Thewa District. Suvarnabhumi means “Golden Land,” and its name was chosen by King Bhumibol Adulyadej to refer to Thailand as the “golden kingdom” of Southeast Asia.
On its 8,000 acres, Suvarnabhumi International Airport houses the world’s tallest control tower (434 feet), and has the world’s largest airport terminal in a single building (6,060,000 square feet). The airport has a 45 million passenger capacity, and sees 3 million tons of cargo pass through it each year. It holds the distinction of being the 6th busiest airport in Asia, serving a total of 47.9 million passengers in 2011 alone, and seeing 96 airlines operate through its busy portals each day.
Currently, Suvarnabhumi has two parallel runways, each 60 meters wide, and 4,000 meters and 3,700 meters long, respectively. It also has two parallel taxiways for simultaneous aircraft arrivals and departures. Its 120 parking bays with 51 contact gates and 69 remote gates can support 76 flights per hour, with five of the bays capable of accommodating the double-decked wide-bodied Airbus A380.
International and domestic airlines flying through Suvarnabhumi International Airport include:
- Aeroflot – Moscow-Sheremetyevo
- Aerosvit Airlines – Kiev Boryspil
- Air Astana – Almaty
- Air Austral – Saint-Denis de la Réunion, Berlin-Brandenburg (starting June 2012), Berlin-Tegel (to end June 2012)
- Air Berlin – Dusseldorf, seasonal: Munich
- Air China – Beijing
- Air France – Paris, Phnom Penh (to end March 2012)
- Air India – Delhi, Mumbai
- Air Koryo – Pyongyang
- Air Macau – Macau
- Air Madagascar – Antananarivo, Guangzhou
- Air Asia – Kuala Lumpur
- Air Nipon Airways – Tokyo via Haneda and Narita airports
- All Nippon Airways – Tokyo
- Asiana Airlines – Seoul
- Austrian Airlines – Vienna
- Bangkok Airways - Bangalore, Chiang Mai, Dhaka, Guilin, Ko Samui, Lampang, Luang Prabang, Malé, Mumbai, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Siem Reap, Sukhothai, Trat, Yangon
- Biman Bangladesh Airlines – Dhaka, Chittagong
- British Airways – London, Sydney (to end March 2012)
- Business Air – Daegu, Seoul, Singapore
- Cathay Pacific - Colombo, Hong Kong, Karachi, Mumbai, Singapore, seasonal: Delhi
- Cebu Pacific – Clark, Manila
- China – Amsterdam, Kaohsiung, Taipei
- China Eastern Airlines – Jihnghong/Xishuangbanna, Kunming, Shanghai-Pudong
- China Southern Airlines – Guangzhou, Shantou, Zhengzhou
- Crystal Thai Airlines – Coshin, Colombo, Dubai, Manila, Muan, Mumbai, Paro, Phuket, Seoul-Incheon
- Delta Airlines – Tokyo
- Druk Air – Bagdogra, Dhaka, Paro, Guwahati
- Eastar Jet – Seoul
- Egypt Air – Cairo, Kuala Lumpur
- El Al – Tel Aviv
- Emirates – Cristchurch, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney
- Ethiopian Airlines – Addis Ababa, Guangzhou, Hong Kong
- Etihad Airways – Abu Dhabi
- EVA Air – Amsterdam, London, Taipei, Vienna
- Finnair – Helsinki
- Garuda Indonesia – Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta
- Gulf Air – Bahrain
- Happy Air – Hat Yai, Hua Hin, Loei, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon, Ratchasima, Nan, Phuket, Ranong
- Hainan Airlines – Beijing (starting July 2012), Haikou, Hangzhou, Nanning
- Hong Kong Airlines – Hong Kong
- I-Fly - Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Moscow
- IndiGo - Delhi, Mumbai
- Indonesia AirAsia - Denpasar/Bali, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Medan, Surabaya
- Japan Airlines – Osaka, Tokyo
- Jeju Air – Busan, Seoul-Incheon
- Jetairfly – Brussels
- Jet Airways - Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai
- Jetstar Airways – Melbourne
- Jetstar Asia Airways – Singapore
- Jin Air – Seoul-Incheon
- Kenya Airways - Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Nairobi
- Kingfisher Airlines – Kolkata
- KLM – Amsterdam, Taipei (to end March 2012)
- Korean Air - Busan, Cheongju, Daegu, Seoul-Incheon
- Kuwait Airways - Kuwait, Manila
- Lao Airlines - Luang Prabang, Pakse, Savannakhet, Vientiane
- Lufthansa - Frankfurt, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur
- Mahan Air - Mashhad, Tehran-Imam Khomeini
- Malaysia Airlines – Kuala Lumpur
- Myanmar Airways International – Yangon, Singapore
- Nepal Airlines – Kathmandu
- Nok Air – Chiang Rai
- Nordwind Airlines – Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk,Krasnoyarsk, Kemerovo, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Khabarovsk, Yukutsk
- Oman Air – Muscat
- Orient Thai Airlines – Hong Kong, Seoul-Incheon
- Pakistan International Airlines – Hong Kong, Islamabad
- Philippine Airlines – Delhi, Manila
- PC Air – Vientiane
- Qantas – London (to end March 2012), Sydney
- Qatar Airways – Doha, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh
- RAK Airways – Ras al-Khaimah (starting June 2012)
- Royal Brunei Airlines – Bandar Seri Begawan
- Royal Jordanian – Amman, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur
- S7 Airlines – seasonal: Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines – Copenhagen
- Shanghai Airlines – Chongqing, Shanghai
- Singapore Airlines – Singapore
- South East Asian Airlines – Clark
- Sri Lankan Airlines – Beijing, Colombo, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai
- Swiss International Airlines – Zurich
- Thai AirAsia - Chennai (starts March 2012), Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chongqing (starts March 2012), Colombo, Delhi (to end March 2012), Denpasar/Bali, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hanoi, Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Krabi, Kuala Lumpur, Kolkata, Macau, Manila, Narathiwat, Penang, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Shenzhen, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Singapore, Surat Thani, Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Yangon
- Thai Airways International - Auckland, Bangalore, Beijing-Capital, Busan, Brisbane, Brussels, Chengdu, Chennai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Colombo, Copenhagen, Delhi, Denpasar/Bali, Dhaka, Dubai, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hangzhou (starting April 2012), Hanoi, Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Johannesburg, Karachi, Kathmandu, Khon Kaen, Ko Samui, Kolkata, Krabi, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Lahore, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madrid, Manila, Melbourne, Milan-Malpensa, Moscow-Domodedovo, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Kansai, Oslo-Gardermoen, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Penang, Perth, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Rome-Fiumicino, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Stockholm-Arlanda, Sydney, Surat Thani, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Vientiane, Xiamen, Yangon, Zürich, seasonal: Gaya, Varanasi
- Thai Regional Airlines - Nakhonratchasima, Phetchabun, Surin
- Thai Smile - Chiang Mai (starting August 2012), Gaya (starting October 2012), Jakarta (starting August 2012), Kolkata (starting August 2012), Macau (starting 1 July 2012), Phnom Penh (starting August 2012), Surat Thani (starting September 2012), Varanasi (starting October 2012)
- Tiger Airways – Singapore
- Transaero – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, seasonal: Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok
- Travel Service Hungary – seasonal: Budapest
- Turkish Airlines – Ho Chi Minh City, Istanbul
- Turkmenistan Airlines – Ashgabat
- T’way Airlines – Seoul-Incheon
- United Airlines – Tokyo
- United Airways – Dhaka
- Ural Airlines – Yekaterinburg
- UTair Aviation – seasonal: Krasnodar
- Uzbekistan Airways – Tashkent
- Vientam Airlines – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City
- Vladivostok Air - Khabarovsk, Seoul-Incheon, Vladivostok
Other airlines also offer charter services passing through Thailand via Suvarnabhumi International Airport:
- Air Poland – Warsaw
- Enter Air – Warsaw
- Finnair – Helsinki
- FlyLAL Charters – Vilnius
- MIAT-Mongolian Airlines – Ulaan Bataar
- Nordwind Airlines - Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Chelyabinsk
- SmartLynx Airlines – Riga
- Sunny Airways – Frankfurt
- Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia Travel Service – Prague, Budapest
- UTair Aviation – Novosibirsk
Suvarnabhumi features an underground rail link station, and boasts of two 5-storey car parking garages that can hold a combined capacity of 5,000 vehicles. Right in front of its passenger terminal building is the 600-room Hotel Novotel Suvarnabhumi Bangkok.
Suvarnabhumi further serves travelers with 10 information service counters, Lost Property and Left Baggage Service, Free Wi-Fi Internet, 126 free Internet kiosks, transfer passenger lounges, a children’s playground, and other recreational areas. It also features a string of restaurants on the third floor, and Duty Free shopping on the second floor.
Just within the airport’s entrance are public car service stations for limousines, taxis, car rentals, buses and shuttle buses, and public vans. It also offers five CIP room lounges for passengers to rest in between flights.
Flood protection is one important feature of the airport, with its surrounding 23.5 kilometer-long and 3 meter high dikes that contain numerous canals which drain water into 6 reservoirs that can hold up to 4 million cubic meters of water. In the event of floods, two water pumping stations south of the airport will pump the floodwaters into two canals (the Khlong Lat Krabang and the Khlong Bang Chalong) that empty into the Gulf of Thailand.
In recent events, Airports of Thailand (AOT) has announced that construction for the Suvarnabhumi’s long-term expansion plans is scheduled to be completed by 2016 to accommodate even more air traffic. This includes an additional five runways on either side of the two main terminals, and a domestic terminal capable of handling 20 million passengers and 6.4 tons of cargo per year.
Bangkok – Global Tourist Hotspot
Bangkok is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, serving as a major tourist gateway for the rest of Thailand. Boasting of some of the most-visited historical areas in the country, like the Grand Palace, and the Wat Pho and Wat Arun temples, Bangkok is also famous for its colorful festivals, museums and art galleries, local markets, and shopping districts.