THAI Smile Airways has ditched the planned shift to Don Mueang airport later this month as serious doubts emerged regarding justifying such a move.
Flag carrier Thai Airways International (THAI) is caught in a dilemma about whether to operate its budget airline entirely from Don Mueang or in conjunction with Suvarnabhumi, the capital's main international airport.
There are several issues which prompted THAI’s board of directors at its Sept 29 meeting to postpone the shift to the end of next March at the earliest.
The earlier plan called for THAI Smile to complete the relocation to Don Mueang, at which it has partially operated since Aug 8 this year, by Oct 26.
The board, chaired by Areepong Bhoocha-oom, saw no need to rush the relocation, allowing the management of both airports another six months to thoroughly consider all aspects of the issue, said Montree Jumrieng, executive vice-president for corporate strategy and sustainable development at THAI.
First and foremost, they have to look at the issues of THAI Smile's possible complete migration in connection with THAI's overall rehabilitation currently under way, said Mr Montree.
The national carrier is in the midst of restructuring after posting losses for five straight quarters after the tourism industry was hit by the political unrest.
Even though the airline expects to benefit from an anticipated increase in tourists during the year-end holidays, it still expects to report a slightly larger loss for 2014 than last year's 12 billion baht deficit.
Connections for THAI's international passengers to domestic flights, which are mostly operated by THAI Smile, are another key concern. THAI operates through Suvarnabhumi, which is over 30 kilometres from Don Mueang.
There are also complications about the air traffic rights granted by some neighbouring countries to THAI, which cannot transfer such rights to THAI Smile, Mr Montree said.