Don Mueang International Airport
|Airport type||Public / Military|
|Owner||Royal Thai Air Force|
|Operator||Airports of Thailand PCL (AOT)|
|Serves||Bangkok Metropolitan Region|
|Location||222 Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Sanam Bin subdistrict, Don Mueang, Bangkok|
|Opened||27 March 1914|
|Focus city for|
|Elevation AMSL||9 ft / 3 m|
Bangkok in Thailand
Don Mueang International Airport (Thai: ท่าอากาศยานดอนเมือง, RTGS: Tha-akatsayan Don Mueang, pronounced [tʰâː.ʔāː.kàːt.sā.jāːn dɔ̄ːn mɯ̄a̯ŋ] (listen), or colloquially as สนามบินดอนเมือง, pronounced [sā.nǎːm.bīn dɔ̄ːn mɯ̄a̯ŋ]) (IATA: DMK, ICAO: VTBD) is one of two international airports serving the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, the other one being Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). Before Suvarnabhumi opened in 2006, Don Mueang was previously known as Bangkok International Airport (Thai: ท่าอากาศยานกรุงเทพ, RTGS: Tha-akatsayan Krungthep).
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, making it one of the world's oldest commercial airports. The airport consists of Terminal 1 for international flights and Terminal 2 for domestic flights which are connected by a unique glass exterior elevated walkway. The airport also featured an exterior walkway connected to the Amari hotel. The first commercial flight was an arrival by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
In September 2006, Don Mueang Airport was closed and replaced by the newly opened 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. In 2015, it became the world's largest low cost carrier airport.
Don Mueang previously carried the IATA code BKK, which was subsequently reassigned to Suvarnabhumi, and 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. Currently, Don Mueang is the main operating base for Nok Air, Thai AirAsia and Thai Lion Air.
"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 by the RAF during the brief British occupation of Thailand until March 1946 when 211 Squadron, which moved there in October 1945, was disbanded.
During the Vietnam War, Don Mueang was a major command and logistics hub of the United States Air Force.
In May 2005, Thai Airways International introduced nonstop services between Bangkok and JFK Airport in New York City using Airbus A340-500s.
On 7 September 2022 at 21:50, an Airbus A380-800 of Emirates (registered A6-EUJ) made an emergency landing on runway 21R at Don Mueang. The aircraft operated as flight EK 363, originated at Guangzhou, China, had been banking over Suvarnabhumi Airport for more than 50 minutes, was unable to land due to heavy rain, even though the latter has been Thailand's port-of-entry since its inauguration 16 years earlier (and the only airport in Thailand that is A380-compatible, even on a scheduled basis during peak times). During its diversion, all passengers and crew remained on board (to wait for the rain to stop); the plane refueled and then took off from Don Mueang at 01:08 the next morning, on 8 September, and landed at Suvarnabhumi where passengers disembarked (the arrival at Suvarnabhumi was delayed). Furthermore, Emirates became the first full-service intercontinental carrier to touch down at Don Mueang for the first time since 2006; the Airbus A380 made its first visit into Don Mueang for the first time in history.
The night of 27–28 September 2006 was the official end of operations at Don Mueang airport. The last commercial flights were:
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.
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 under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra 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 the number was 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 in December 2015 increases Don Mueang's passenger capacity to 30 million a year.
The third phase of Don Mueang's 36.8 billion baht expansion is scheduled to start in the second half of 2023 and will be completed in 2029. It aims to increase the airport's passenger capacity to 48 million per year. The new 155,000 m2 (1,670,000 sq ft) international Terminal 3 will accommodate 18 million passengers a year by 2022.
Don Mueang International Airport has three terminals. Terminal 1 is used for international flights and Terminal 2 for domestic flights. The opening of Terminal 2 has raised the airport's capacity to 30 million passengers per year. Terminal 3, the old domestic terminal, has been abandoned since 2011. The new Terminal 3 will have a capacity of 18 million passengers yearly and is scheduled to be completed by 2029. As part of the 36.8 billion baht project, Terminals 1 and 2 will be upgraded to handle 22 million domestic passengers annually, raising overall airport capacity from 30 to 40 million annually.
|9 Air||Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Wenzhou, Zhengzhou|
|Bangkok Airways||Koh Samui (begins 29 October 2023)|
|Batik Air||Denpasar, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta|
|Batik Air Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur–International|
|China Express Airlines||Chongqing|
|China Southern Airlines||Guangzhou, Jieyang, Nanning, Shenzhen, Wuhan|
|Indonesia AirAsia||Denpasar, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Medan|
|Juneyao Air||Nanjing, Shanghai–Pudong|
|Myanmar Airways International||Mandalay, Yangon|
|Nok Air||Buriram, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Gaya (begins 1 November 2023), Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hyderabad, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sot, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nanning, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Phuket, Ranong, Sakon Nakhon, Surat Thani, Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Varanasi (begins 1 November 2023), Zhengzhou|
|Sky Angkor Airlines||Phnom Penh (begins 25 August 2023)|
|Spring Airlines||Chengdu–Tianfu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Jieyang, Lanzhou, Nanchang, Nanning, Ningbo, Shanghai–Pudong, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Xi'an|
|Thai AirAsia|| Ahmedabad (resumes 10 October 2023), Bangalore, Buriram, Can Tho, Changsha, Chennai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chongqing, Chumphon, Colombo–Bandaranaike, Da Nang, Denpasar, Dhaka, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hanoi, Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Huangshan, Jaipur, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Jieyang, Johor Bahru, Khon Kaen, Kochi, Kolkata, Krabi, Kuala Lumpur–International, Kunming, Loei, Luang Prabang, Lucknow, Macau, Mae Sot, Malé, Mandalay, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Nanjing, Narathiwat, Nha Trang, Penang, Phitsanulok, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Quanzhou, Ranong, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Shenzhen, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Singapore, Surat Thani, Taipei–Taoyuan, Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Vientiane, Wuhan, Xi'an, Yangon|
Seasonal: Gaya, Ningbo
|Thai Lion Air|| Bangalore, Changsha, Changzhou, Chengdu–Tianfu, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Colombo–Bandaranaike (resumes 30 October 2023) , Da Nang, Hangzhou, Hat Yai, Hefei, Jakarta–Soekarno-Hatta, Jinan, Kathmandu, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Mumbai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Nanjing, Ningbo, Phitsanulok, Phuket, Shanghai–Pudong, Shenzhen, Singapore, Surat Thani, Taipei–Taoyuan, Tianjin, Tokyo–Narita (begins 16 September 2023), Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Wuhan, Xi'an |
Charter: Taiyuan, Xuzhou
|Thai Summer Airways||Taipei–Taoyuan|
|T'way Air||Cheongju, Seoul–Incheon|
In 2019, the airport reached its full capacity of 52 flights per hour, or about 700–800 flights per day. By the end of 2019, it is expected to top its maximum passenger handling capacity of 40 million. Airport manager AoT forecasts 41 million passengers in 2020 and 45 million by 2023. The airport was designed to serve a maximum of 30 million passengers annually. Building additional runways is not possible. AoT is encouraging airlines to use wide-body aircraft at Don Mueang to increase passenger loads from 100–200 passengers to about 300 per aircraft.
Total passenger traffic through Don Mueang jumped 40.7 percent to 30.3 million in 2015, with international numbers rising 53.1 percent to 9.17 million and domestic passengers increasing 35.9 percent to 21.1 million. Aircraft movements rose by 29.8 percent to 224,074, including 158,804 domestic (up 26.2 percent) and 65,270 international (up 39.3 percent).
|Calendar year||Passengers||Change from the previous||Movements||Cargo|
|Source: Airports of Thailand|
|Rank||Airport||Passengers Handled 2019||%Change|
|Rank||Airport||Passengers 2019||% Change|
|9||Ho Chi Minh City||510,873||8.67%|
Don Mueang International Airport is approximately 1–1.5 hours from Suvarnabhumi Airport by rail or bus. There are also direct buses between the airports operated by Airport Shuttle Bus.
The airport has two main access routes. Among these the most convenient route is via the Don Mueang Tollway. Another main airport entrance is Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.
Four bus routes service the airport, route A1 runs between the airport and Bangkok Bus Terminal (Chatuchak), route A2 runs between the airport and Victory Monument, route A3 runs between the airport and Lumphini Park, and route A4 runs between the airport and Sanam Luang.
Don Mueang International Airport is served by the SRT Dark Red Line and the State Railway of Thailand intercity services at Don Mueang railway station that connects to central Bangkok at Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal.
AOT plans to build a three-kilometre monorail to link the airport with the BTS Green Line. Approval of the three billion baht project is expected by the end of 2020.