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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007, 04:40 GMT 05:40 UK
Bangkok's old airport back in use
The departure hall at Bangkok's old Don Muang airport in Bangkok (February 2007)
The old airport was decommissioned six months ago
Bangkok's old airport has reopened to help ease congestion at the Thai capital's troubled new international airport as it undergoes repairs.

Don Muang airport - decommissioned six months ago - is expected to handle about 140 daily domestic flights.

Bangkok's $4bn (2bn) Suvarnabhumi Airport was designed to showcase Thailand as a regional hub.

However, it has been plagued with problems since it opened in September, including cracks in the runways.

The acting president of Airports of Thailand, which runs both facilities, said Don Muang would handle about 140 flights daily.

Thai Airways will operate 30 daily domestic flights out of the old airport, including some flights to the northern city of Chiang Mai.

Eleven Thai Airways routes to popular tourist destinations such as Phuket and Krabi will be kept at Suvarnabhumi to make it easier for passengers connecting to international flights, the airline said in a statement.

Nok Air and One-Two-Go will transfer all of their flights back to the Don Muang, where aviation operations have been going on since 1914, when it opened as a military airfield.

Series of problems

Suvarnabhumi Airport opened in September to huge publicity.

The Thai authorities hoped that Suvaranabhumi, which means Golden Land, would rival the airports in Hong Kong and Singapore and cement Thailand's reputation as a regional hub.

Passengers in the new airport
Suvarnabhumi boasts the largest passenger terminal in the world
But since development started more than 40 years ago, the project has been mired by a series of problems.

Politicians from Mr Thaksin's administration were accused of buying up land in advance of construction, to sell on again at huge profits, and the purchase of the airport's high-tech X-Ray scanners was also tainted by allegations of corruption.

The project also suffered many delays and accidents, including a fire that swept through a catering hall, killing a member of staff.

Even supernatural forces seem to have been against Suvarnabhumi, and dozens of people reported seeing ghosts during the construction process.

In February, officials admitted that there were cracks in the runways and taxiways, and said that while they were not a safety threat, they needed repairing.

The old international airport at Don Muang is being reopened on a temporary basis following approval by the Cabinet.

Correspondents say the move will complicate travel for many international visitors, who travel to Bangkok and transfer to different airlines for flights to Thailand's famed beach resorts.

READ THE FINDINGS

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An earlier version of this article said that the Don Muang airport opened in 1914. This overstated its status, as it was only a military airfield at that time.



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