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Don Mueang International Airport


Don Mueang International Airport

Don Mueang International Airport
Airport type Military / Public
Owner Royal Thai Air Force
Operator Airports of Thailand PLC (AOT)
Location 222 Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Khwaeng Sanam Bin, Khet Don Mueang, Bangkok, Thailand
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 9 ft / 3 m
DMK is located in Bangkok
Location of airport in Bangkok
Direction Length Surface
m ft
03L/21R 3,700 12,139 Asphalt
03R/21L 3,500 11,483 Asphalt
Statistics (FY2014)
International passengers 5,989,941
Domestic passengers 15,556,627
Total passengers 21,546,568
Aircraft operations 172,681
Source: Airports of Thailand[1]

Don Mueang International Airport (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.[3] 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 first commercial flight was an arrival by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.[4] 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. In 2015, it becomes World's largest low cost carrier airport[5]

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 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 hub for Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, and Orient Thai Airlines.


  • History 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Closure 1.2
    • Reopening 1.3
  • Terminals 2
  • Airlines and destinations 3
  • Statistics 4
    • Busiest international routes 4.1
    • Busiest domestic routes 4.2
    • Traffic by calendar year 4.3
  • Other facilities 5
  • Accidents and incidents 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Early years

FAA diagram

"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.[6]

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.

During the Vietnam War, Don Mueang was a major command and logistics hub of the United States Air Force.

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,[7] 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.[8]
  • International arrival: Kuwait Airways from Jakarta at 01:30[9]
  • 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.[10]

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.[11][12] 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.[13] Airports of Thailand was ordered to encourage low-cost carriers to shift to Don Mueang to help ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi Airport.[14][15] Suvarnabhumi airport was designed to handle 45 million passengers per year,[14] 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.[16]

Currently Terminal 1 is capable of handling 18.5 million passengers annually.[17] 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.[18]


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.[19] Currently Terminal 2 is not used, but it is scheduled to open by December 2015.[20]

Airlines and destinations

A Thai AirAsia X Airbus A330-300 taxiing at Don Mueang
A Thai Smile Airbus A320-200 with sharklets taxiing at Don Mueang
A Nok Air Boeing 737-800 parking at Don Mueang
A Thai AirAsia Airbus A320-200 parking at Don Mueang
A Thai Lion Air Boeing 737-900ER parking at Don Mueang
Airlines Destinations
AirAsia Johor Bahru,[21] Kuala Lumpur
City Airways Hong Kong, Nanchang, Nanjing,[22] Phuket
Hong Kong Express Airways Hong Kong[23]
Indonesia AirAsia Denpasar, Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta, Medan, Surabaya[24]
Kan Air Mae Sot
Maldivian Male
Malindo Air Kuala Lumpur
Nok Air Buriram, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chumphon, Hanoi (begins 1 December 2015),[25] Hat Yai, Hefei, Ho Chi Minh City,[26] Khon Kaen, Krabi, Lampang, Loei, Mae Sot, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Phuket, Ranong, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Surat Thani, Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Yangon
Seasonal: Nanjing
NokScoot Nanjing,[27] Qingdao (begins 25 November 2015),[28] Singapore,[29] Taipei-Taoyuan,[30] Tianjin (begins 15 January 2016)[31]
Orient Thai Airlines Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Phuket
R Airlines Chiang Mai, Macau
Scoot Osaka-Kansai,[32] Singapore
Siam Air Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Zhengzhou
Thai AirAsia Bangalore,[33] Buriram, Changsha, Chennai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chongqing, Denpasar, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hanoi, Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Loei, Macau, Mandalay, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Narathiwat, Penang, Phitsanulok, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Shenzhen, Siem Reap, Singapore, Surat Thani, Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Wuhan, Xi'an, Yangon
Charter: Ningbo,[34] Wenzhou[35]
Thai AirAsia X Osaka-Kansai, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong,[36] Tokyo-Narita
Thai Lion Air Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat,[37] Phuket, Singapore,[38] Surat Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani
Thai Smile Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Phuket
Tigerair Taiwan Taipei-Taoyuan
V Air Taipei-Taoyuan


Thai Airways aircraft at the airport before their relocation to Suvarnabhumi Airport
Main hall of Terminal 1

Busiest international routes

Busiest international routes to and from Don Mueang International Airport (2013)[39]
Rank Airport Passengers handled 2013 % Change
Passengers Handled 2012
1 Kuala Lumpur 976,559 390.58 199,063
2 Singapore 552,663 288.85 142,128
3 Macau 425,673 376.18 89,393
4 Hong Kong 290,767 408.96 57,130
5 Ho Chi Minh City 257,856 416.57 49,917
6 Yangon 245,083 275.67 65,239
7 Chongqing 204,499 357.16 44,732
8 Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta 202,479 560.06 30,676
9 Guangzhou 177,805 523.53 28,516
10 Wuhan 156,853 463 27,860

Busiest domestic routes

Busiest domestic routes to and from Don Mueang International Airport (2013)
Rank Airport Passengers handled 2013 % Change
Passengers Handled 2012
1 Chiang Mai 1,872,291 131.16 809,960
2 Phuket 1,782,840 221.81 554,003
3 Hat Yai 1,657,984 118.78 757,825
4 Udon Thani 850,390 83.29 463,949
5 Nakhon Si Thammarat 819,640 111.32 387,861
6 Surat Thani 765,174 135.12 325,436
7 Ubon Ratchathani 681,753 99.88 341,080
8 Chiang Rai 675,835 116.48 312,192
9 Krabi 542,709 371.87 115,012
10 Trang 487,023 123.97 217,452

Traffic by calendar year

Passengers Change from previous year Movements Cargo
2008 5,043,235
2009 2,466,997 051.1%
2010 2,999,867 021.6%
2011 3,424,915 014.2% 51,301
2012 5,983,141 074.7% 65,120 7,329
2013 16,479,227 0472.70% 154,827 25,657
21,546,568 030.75% 172,681 29,086
Source: Airports of Thailand

Other facilities

  • Don Mueang International Airport is a joint-use facility, shared with the Royal Thai Air Force's (RTAF) Don Muang 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.[41][42]
  • 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 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 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,[44] The airport is presently using the IATA airport code DMK, while Suvarnabhumi Airport has inherited its previous code BKK. Flyer Talk,[45] 26 August 2006.
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  2. ^
  3. ^ "Midnight Initiation for Suvarnabhumi". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Bangkok Don Mueang becomes world’s largest LCC airport, overtaking KLIA, Barcelona & Las Vegas". Centre for Aviation. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
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  7. ^ "Exporters pan new export fees". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Qantas steals show at last minute", Bangkok Post, 29 September 2006
  9. ^ ATW: LH Cargo set to be first into Suvarnabhumi
  10. ^ "In With the Old", Aviation Week & Space Technology, 1 Jan 2007.
  11. ^ Don Muang Airport (DMK) Bangkok Thailand | Don Muang Airport Guide. Retrieved on 25 Aug 2013.
  12. ^ "Thai floods: Bangkok Don Muang airport suspends flights". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Low-cost carriers start launching from Don Mueang". The Nation (Bangkok). 1 Oct 2012. Retrieved 15 Oct 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Thongrung, Watcharapong; Amnartchareonrit, Bamrung (16 Mar 2012). "Budget airlines to fly from Don Mueang". The Nation (Bangkok). Retrieved 15 Oct 2012. 
  15. ^ Mahitthirook, Amornrat; Kositchotethana, Boonsong (21 Jun 2012). "Airlines get big discounts for move to Don Mueang". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 10 Nov 2012. 
  16. ^ Pinijparakarn, Sucheera (23 May 2012). "IPO of Asia Aviation is expected to raise Bt4.5 bn". The Nation (Bangkok). Retrieved 15 Oct 2012. 
  17. ^ Amnartchareonrit, Bamrung (18 Aug 2012). "Don Mueang will be ready on time, AOT says". The Nation (Bangkok). Retrieved 15 Oct 2012. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Karnjanatawe, Karnjana (25 July 2011). "Don Muang moves local flights to Terminal 1". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "Airports of Thailand". The Nation (Bangkok). 14 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  21. ^ "AirAsia to begin direct JB-Bangkok flights". FMT News. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "City Airways Files Bangkok – Nanjing Schedule from Sep 2015". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Indonesia AirAsia to launch Padang-Singapore and resume Surabaya-Bangkok". Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  25. ^ "Nok Air to fly to Hanoi". TTR Weekly. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  26. ^ "Nok Air Launches New Route from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh city". Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  27. ^ "NokScoot Revises Nanjing Launch to mid-June 2015". 27 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  28. ^ "NokScoot Confirms Qingdao Launch from late-Nov 2015". 12 October 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  29. ^ "NokScoot adds stopgap flight.". Bangkok Post. 2 May 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  30. ^ "NokScoot Confirms Taipei Launch from late-Oct 2015". 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Scoot to Start Osaka Service from July 2015". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Thai AirAsia Resumes Ningbo / Wenzhou Scheduled Charter from late-Oct 2015". 17 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  35. ^ "Thai AirAsia Resumes Ningbo / Wenzhou Scheduled Charter from late-Oct 2015". 17 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Thai Lion Air Proposes Bangkok – Singapore Schedule from Aug 2015". 
  39. ^ [3]
  40. ^
  41. ^ "14 JUN 1972 Douglas DC-8-53 Japan Air Lines – JAL." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 23 March 2009.
  42. ^ "Death Toll in Air Disasters Heavy." United Press International via Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. Thursday 15 June 1972. Retrieved on 23 March 2009.
  43. ^ "L2-41/15/210 Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  44. ^ [4]
  45. ^ Suvarnabhumi – latest news. Important. – Page 3 – FlyerTalk Forums. (20 July 2006). Retrieved on 25 August 2013.

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
Don Muang Airport travel guide from Wikivoyage

  • 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.
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