Thai Classic and Beloved Airport Back in Full Operation Newly Renovated Don Mueang Airport

Sasin Vibulbandhitkij Product Manager B.F.M. Co., Ltd.

Hello, BFM Club members and fans from Facebook Fan page. In this edition, let’s visit more interesting buildings right here in Thailand. Today we will talk about the one and the only classic international airport where, at one time, the whole nation air traffics were directed from this Bangkok landmark, Don Mueang international airport.

In retrospect to Thai aviation history, Don Mueang airport has emerged as the first Thailand’s international airport after the operation of Srapathum airport was terminated. Ever since Don Mueang airport had been the Thai icon building where a lot of oriental accents and Thai architecture were applied to improve the image of Thailand and the services of Thai aviation industry. Welcome once again to this edition of the newly renovated Don Mueang international airport.

During the worst mass flooding in B.E. 2554, Don Mueang airport has been badly effected. Many people who closely followed the flooding situation perhaps has come across the fooding reports at Don Mueang airport. The situation was pretty bad not only 1-2 meter high but over 3 meters above the runway upto the airplane levels.  

After the flood crisis, all these costly flooding damages revealed and the consequence of the disaster was shocking. At the end, the government has decided to repair and renovate this Thai airport landmark back to its original operating conditions. Logistically, this airport can be used in parallel with the currently operating Suwannaphum international airport. The Don Mueang airport was designated to be the hub for domestic and low-cost airliners. The operation of this airport is to be revived to its glory days to meet today’s aviation standards serving Thai and international travelers alike. There was a major renovation and redecoration to upgrade this airport.

The reconstruction efforts of Dong Mueang airport started at the beginning of B.E. 2555. Later that year on October 1, the newly renovated Don Mueang airport was back in business for commercial flights. When the writing of this article is about to finish, this airport has already opened and operated for approximately two months.

The post-flooding rebuilding of Don Mueang airport has taken a few critical improvements in terms of building safety and modern facilities for travelers and ground staffs. This airport and its sister airport (Suwannaphum international airport) are operated with the same technological advances up to the standards of world’s aviation industry. The airport exterior was significantly upgraded by using cutting edge, clean-looking ACM panels. By following NFPA 285 standards for fire safety and universal safety measures, ACM panels were selected as construction and decoration materials and, compulsorily, their qualities must exceed the requirements of these rigorous NFPA 285 criteria.

Thanks to continuous improvement and development of ALPOLIC/fr products, the company has more than 40 years of manufacturing record with the aim to maintain the highest fire safety standards. ALPOLIC/fr panels were chosen to give a new look to the nostalgic Don Mueang airport. As seen in many international airports in every corner of the world when it comes to fire safety and high quality manufacturing, ALPOLIC/fr panels are the construction materials of choice as mentioned in many articles prior to this one. At the recently renovated Don Mueang airport, ALPOLIC/fr panels were used to beautify both the interior and exterior of the airport and chosen based on the stringent construction requirements of the fire safety as well as flood resistance.

Inside the terminal, ALPOLIC/fr panels with fire retarding mineral-filled cores were used as interior walls and ceiling due to their versatile functionality as flexible construction materials. The new Don Mueang terminal is now modern and clean-looking. The high gloss and fire resistance of the FEVE lumiflon-based paint coating will last for many years to come, backed by the 20-year warranty directly from Mitsubishi Plastics Inc., Japan. This is a sound long-term investment for this historic airport. The manufacturing quality of the ALPOIC/fr panels is covered by a 10-year warranty even though this special installation did not follow the traditional installation procedures (e.g., the edge-folding or screw fixation). In addition, the installation of ALPOLIC/fr panels raises environmental awareness and increases scores for green building evaluation in terms of construction design using TREES standard (up to 20 points). 

Since the reopening of the airport on October 1, this building has been busy with travelers and tourists. Once abandoned airport is now filled with peoples from all walks of life and back to its own past glory one more time.

Now we are coming to the end for this edition. We hope you like our nostalgia of the airport icon of Thai aviation industry and find an opportunity to visit the newly renovated Don Mueang airport. Then you will see for yourself the application of ALPOLIC/fr panels to improve the terminal surrounding and upgrade the fire safety of this airport simultaneously. We hope it will inspire you in some ways to improve your own buildings. Goodbye for now and see you again on the next edition. 

History of Don Mueang Airport

Don Mueang Airport (used to be called “Bangkok International Airport”) is located on Vipavadee-rangsit road, Sanambin, Don Mueang, Bangkok. The inauguration of the airport was on March 27, B.E. 2457 and its termination was on September 28, B.E. 2549, which is the same day of Suwannabhum international airport’s opening day. The old Don Mueang airport was then converted to an airplane maintenance facility/pilot training center and private jet parking. Not until March 25, B.E. 2550 that the domestic air carriers were moved from Suwannabhum and back to Don Mueang airports due to the Suwannabhum’s runway reparation and technical reasons.

Srapathum airport, a part of today’s horse race tracks of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, is the first airport in Thailand. Due to its spatial and geographical limitations, the termination of Srapathum airport marked the beginning of Don Mueang aviation history. The government at that time was searching for a more spacious and better strategic plot of land that was not too far from the city and easily flooded. Lieutenant Colonel Pra-chalumarkard, the captain of first Thai fighter squad of the royal Thai air force, was responsible for the construction of the new airport project. He was later promoted to Air Marshal Praya-chalumarkard.

From an aerial survey, rice paddies of North Bangkean were considered a suitable plateau and this land fit all preliminary requirements to be the next national airport. Then the land survey followed. The neighborhood was called “Don-e-yeow”, named after the landscape where a big flock of hawks were usually gathering. Also this plot of land was well-situated for railroad logistics since there was a north-bound train track nearby. This strategic plot of rice paddies approximately 22 kilometers away from the Srapathum airport or 13 minutes by small airplanes, belonged to several landlords including Muean Harn Jaiard (Phu Jamornmann), Praya-arammontein, etc. Lieutenant Colonel Pra-chalumarkard took the leading role to gather different lands from different landowners and constructed a monumental airport that had lasted for decades as a gateway to Southeast Asia. The name “Don Mueang” was adopted from a Don Mueang fighter brigade at the air force base. Later, “Don-e-yeow” temple constructed from the donation of Phu Jamornmann, was also renamed to “Don Mueang” temple and the whole area was eventually dubbed “Don Mueang”. On February 23, B.E.2457, Thai army finished the construction of this airport starting the new era of Thai aviation industry.

On March 27, B.E.2457, the ministry of defense formed an army fighter brigade and used the Don Mueang airport as its base. The royal Thai air force officially selected March 27 as its memorial day. In B.E. 2483, the royal Thai air force initiated the Department of Civil Aviation to operate commercial flights and upgraded a significant part of the air force base to become today’s Don Mueang Airport. Not until June 21, B.E. 2498 that more airliners started to depart from and arrive at this airport more frequently, the “Don Mueang Airport” or “Bangkok Airport” was once again renamed to “Bangkok International Airport.” 

Later on July 1, B.E. 2522, Airports of Thailand (AOT) was established and commercial aviation operation was transferred from the Department of Civil Aviation, Royal Thai Air Force to AOT. On September 28, B.E. 2549, all commercial flights operated in and out of Bangkok was entirely transferred to Suwannabhum International airport located in Samutprakarn. This put an end to decade long services of Don Mueang airport. The last flight out was the Qantas from Australia. On February, B.E. 2550, General (ret.) Surayud Chulanont (the prime minister at the time) and his cabinet ministers agreed to reopen Don Mueang airport after facing operational difficulties at Suwannabhum airport. The idea of using two international airports for Thailand had emerged. Once again, the already-terminated Don Mueang was reopened for commercial flights on March 25, B.E. 2550.

Composed by
Sasin Vibulbandhitkij
Product Manager B.F.M. Co., Ltd.

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