Don Mueang International Airport
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|Don Mueang International Airport
|IATA: DMK – ICAO: VTBD|
|Owner||Royal Thai Air Force|
|Operator||Airports of Thailand PLC (AOT)|
|Location||222 Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Khwaeng Sanam Bin, Khet Don Mueang, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Elevation AMSL||9 ft / 3 m|
Don Mueang International Airport (Thai: ท่าอากาศยานดอนเมือง – Thai pronunciation: [dɔ̄ːn mɯ̄aŋ]) (IATA: DMK, ICAO: VTBD) (or also [old] Bangkok International Airport) is one of two international airports serving Bangkok, Thailand, the other one being Suvarnabhumi Airport ([New] Bangkok International Airport) (BKK). The airport is considered to be one of the world's oldest international airports and Asia's oldest operating airport. It was officially opened as a Royal Thai Air Force base on 27 March 1914, although it had been in use earlier. Commercial flights began in 1924. The first commercial flight was an arrival by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. making it one of the world's oldest commercial airports. Don Mueang Airport closed in 2006 following the opening of Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi Airport, before reopening on 24 March 2007 after renovations. Since the opening of the new airport, it has become a regional commuter flight hub and the de facto low-cost airline hub.
Don Mueang was an important hub of Asia and the hub of Thai Airways International prior to its closure. At its peak, it served most[clarification needed] air traffic for the entire country, with 80 airlines operating 160,000 flights and handling over 38 million passengers and 700,000 tons of cargo in 2004. It was then the 14th busiest airport in the world and 2nd in Asia by passenger volume. Don Mueang is the main hub for Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, and Orient Thai Airlines.
"Don Mueang" airfield was the second established in Thailand, after Sa Pathum airfield, which is now Sa Pathum horse racing course, known as the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The first flights to Don Mueang were made on 8 March 1914 and involved the transfer of aircraft of the Royal Thai Air Force. Three years earlier, Thailand had sent three army officers to France to train as pilots. On completion of their training in 1911, the pilots were authorized to purchase eight aircraft, four Breguets and four Nieuports, which formed the basis of the Royal Thai Air Force. Sa Pathum airfield was established in February 1911 with an arrival by Orville Wright, seven years after the invention of the first airplane by the Wright brothers on 17 December 1903.
In 1933, the airfield was the scene of heavy fighting between royalists and government forces during the Boworadet Rebellion. The airfield was used by the occupying Japanese during World War II, and was bombed and strafed by Allied aircraft on several occasions.
After the war had finished in September 1945 the airfield was occupied the RAF during the brief British occupation of Thailand until March 1946.
Before the opening of Suvarnabhumi, the airport used the IATA airport code BKK and the name was spelled "Don Muang". After Suvarnabhumi opened for commercial flights, the spelling was changed and as "Don Mueang" it now uses the airport code DMK, though it still retains the ICAO airport code VTBD. The traditional spelling is still used by many airlines and by most Thais.
The night of 27–28 September 2006 was the official end of operations at Don Mueang airport. The last commercial flights were:
- International departure: Although scheduled for Kuwait Airways KU414 to Kuwait at 02:50, Qantas flight QF302 to Sydney, originally scheduled for 18:00, was delayed for more than nine hours before finally taking off at 03:12, about ten minutes after the Kuwait flight. Qantas claimed that QF302 was an extra flight.
- International arrival: Kuwait Airways from Jakarta at 01:30
- Domestic departure: Thai Airways TG124 to Chiang Mai at 22:15 (coincidentally, when Thai moved domestic operations back to Suvarnabhumi again on 28 March 2009, their last departure was also a 22:15 flight to Chiang Mai)
- Domestic arrival: TG216 from Phuket at 23:00
Commercial carriers deserted Don Mueang at the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport. But the higher operating costs of the new airport and safety concerns over cracked runways at the new airport caused many to seek a return to Don Mueang. Low-cost airlines led demands for a reopening of the airport. Airports of Thailand released a report at the end of 2006 which furthered this effort. The report proposed reopening DMK as a way to avoid or delay second-stage expansion which had been planned for Suvarnabhumi.
On 30 January 2007, the Ministry of Transport recommended temporarily reopening Don Mueang while touch up work proceeded on some taxiways at Suvarnabhumi. The recommendation was subject to approval by the Thai cabinet. On 25 March 2007, the airport officially reopened for some domestic flights.
Because of the 2011 Thailand floods that affected Bangkok and other parts of Thailand, the airport was closed as flood waters flowed onto the runways and affected the lighting. Don Mueang reopened on 6 March 2012.
On 16 March 2012, the Government of Thailand and Prime Minister Yingluck ordered all low-cost, chartered, and non-connecting flights to relocate to Don Mueang. This ended the single-airport policy. Airports of Thailand was ordered to encourage low-cost carriers to shift to Don Mueang to help ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Suvarnabhumi airport was designed to handle 45 million passengers per year, but it processed 48 million in 2011 and number is expected to reach 53 million in 2012. Some ten airlines may relocate to Don Mueang. Budget airline Nok Air is already serving flights from and to Don Mueang. Nok Air handles about four million passengers per year. Orient Thai Airlines and Thai AirAsia have also started operations at Don Mueang. Thai AirAsia carried 7.2 million passengers in 2011. The number is projected to grow to eight million in 2012.
Currently Terminal 1 is capable of handling 18.5 million passengers annually. On 7 September 2013, Airports of Thailand announced its three billion baht renovation to reopen Terminal 2 as early as May 2014. Terminal 1's passengers in 2013 will likely reach 16 million against its capacity of 18.5 million. Completion of Terminal 2 will raise Don Mueang's passenger capacity to 30 million a year.
Don Mueang International Airport has 3 terminals. Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 were used as international terminals before the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport, while Terminal 3 was used as a domestic terminal. All flights relocated to Terminal 1 on 1 August 2011. Currently Terminal 2 is not used, but it is scheduled to open by August 2015.
Airlines and destinations
Busiest international routes
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled 2013|| % Change
|Passengers Handled 2012|
|5||Ho Chi Minh City||257,856||416.57||49,917|
Busiest domestic routes
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled 2013|| % Change
|Passengers Handled 2012|
|5||Nakhon Si Thammarat||819,640||111.32||387,861|
Traffic by calendar year
|Passengers||Change from previous year||Movements||Cargo
|Source: Airports of Thailand|
- Don Mueang International Airport is a joint-use facility, shared with the Royal Thai Air Force's (RTAF) Don Mueang Royal Thai Air Force Base, and is the home of the RTAF 1st Air Division, which consists primarily of non-combat aircraft.
- A RTAF golf course is located between the two runways. The course has no separation from the runway, and golfers are held back by a red light whenever planes land.
Accidents and incidents
- On 14 June 1972 – Japan Airlines Flight 471, which originated at Don Mueang, crashed outside of New Delhi's Palam International Airport, killing 82 of 87 occupants; 10 of 11 crew members and 72 of 76 passengers died, and 3 people on the ground died.
- On 25 December 1976 – EgyptAir Flight 864, a Boeing 707-300 bound for Bangkok from Cairo, crashed into an industrial area near the airport during a landing attempt. All 53 aboard were killed.
- On 27 April 1980 – Thai Airways Flight 231, a BAe 748 which was en route from Khon Kaen to Bangkok, lost altitude during a thunderstorm and crashed about 13 km from Bangkok International Airport. All four crew members and 40 of the 49 passengers were killed.
- On June 23, 1985 – An explosion at Tokyo Narita International Airport killed two baggage handlers, and injured four. The bomb was intended for Air India Flight 301, with 177 passengers and crew on board, bound for Don Mueang International Airport.
- On 29 November 1987 – Korean Air Flight 858, flying from Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq to Abu Dhabi International Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to Don Mueang to Gimpo Airport near Seoul, South Korea, exploded over the Andaman Sea after a bomb planted by North Korean agents exploded. Everyone on board were killed.
- On 9 September 1988– Vietnam Airlines Flight 831 crashed while on approach to Don Mueang International Airport. 76 of the 90 passengers and crew on board were killed.
- On 26 May 1991 – Lauda Air Flight 004, which was headed to Wien-Schwechat International Airport in Vienna, suffered an in-flight deployment of the thrust reverser on the No. 1 engine after taking off from Don Mueang. There were no survivors from the 213 passengers and 10 crew.
- On 21 January 1992 – Douglas VC-47D L2-41/15/210 of the Royal Thai Air Force was damaged beyond repair in a landing accident.
- On 23 September 1999 – Qantas Flight 1, in what was then the most serious incident in the airline's famously safe jet aircraft history, a Boeing 747-400 overshot the runway causing significant damage but no casualties.
- On 3 March 2001 – Thai Airways International Flight 114, a Thai Airways International Boeing 737-400 (HS-TDC), bound for Chiang Mai from Bangkok, was destroyed by an explosion and fire that occurred about 35 minutes before Thaksin Shinawatra, later to become Prime Minister of Thailand, and about 150 other passengers were to board. Five members of the cabin crew were aboard, and one was killed. Witnesses said they heard an explosion before flames erupted aboard the aircraft. Subsequently NTSB investigators reported that the central fuel tank had exploded followed by the right tank 18 minutes later. The cause for the explosion was unclear, though some speculate it was an assassination attempt based on chemicals found during the subsequent investigation.
- Bangkok Post, All flights must use new airport from 28 September 19 June 2006
- Flight International, The airport is presently using the IATA airport code DMK, while Suvarnabhumi Airport has inherited its previous code BKK. Flyer Talk, 26 August 2006.
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- ATW: LH Cargo set to be first into Suvarnabhumi
- "In With the Old", Aviation Week & Space Technology, 1 Jan 2007.
- Don Muang Airport (DMK) Bangkok Thailand | Don Muang Airport Guide. Donmuangairportonline.com. Retrieved on 25 Aug 2013.
- "Thai floods: Bangkok Don Muang airport suspends flights". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- "Low-cost carriers start launching from Don Mueang". The Nation (Bangkok). 1 Oct 2012. Retrieved 15 Oct 2012.
- Thongrung, Watcharapong; Amnartchareonrit, Bamrung (16 Mar 2012). "Budget airlines to fly from Don Mueang". The Nation (Bangkok). Retrieved 15 Oct 2012.
- Mahitthirook, Amornrat; Kositchotethana, Boonsong (21 Jun 2012). "Airlines get big discounts for move to Don Mueang". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 10 Nov 2012.
- Pinijparakarn, Sucheera (23 May 2012). "IPO of Asia Aviation is expected to raise Bt4.5 bn". The Nation (Bangkok). Retrieved 15 Oct 2012.
- Amnartchareonrit, Bamrung (18 Aug 2012). "Don Mueang will be ready on time, AOT says". The Nation (Bangkok). Retrieved 15 Oct 2012.
- Karnjanatawe, Karnjana (25 July 2011). "Don Muang moves local flights to Terminal 1". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
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- "AirAsia to begin direct JB-Bangkok flights". FMT News. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "City Airways Files Bangkok – Nanjing Schedule from Sep 2015". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- "NokScoot Revises Nanjing Launch to mid-June 2015". Airlineroute.net. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- "NokScoot adds stopgap flight.". Bangkok Post. 2 May 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- "Scoot to Start Osaka Service from July 2015". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- "Thai AirAsiaX adds Sapporo route". Bangkok Post. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- "14 JUN 1972 Douglas DC-8-53 Japan Air Lines – JAL." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 23 March 2009.
- "Death Toll in Air Disasters Heavy." United Press International via Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. Thursday 15 June 1972. Retrieved on 23 March 2009.
- "L2-41/15/210 Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- [dead link]
- Suvarnabhumi – latest news. Important. – Page 3 – FlyerTalk Forums. Flyertalk.com (20 July 2006). Retrieved on 25 August 2013.
- Don Mueang International Airport, Official site
- News video of the last two flights from Don Mueang, as telecast on MCOT
- Airport information for VTBD at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.