Don Muang IAP, Thailand (2006)
 Gateway to Asia


Michael Fader


Michael Fader


Don Muang International Airport Bangkok was Bangkok's international airport until 27. September 2006. The airport is located about 24 km north of the city centre of Bangkok and was primarily the aviation hub of the airline Thai Airways. The eastern part of the airfield is used by the Royal Thai Air Force, which maintains its headquarters with various departments there, and the 1st Air Division is also stationed at RTAFB Don Muang.

Airbus A-300 at the Gate (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader) Boeing 737 HS-DDL  Nok Air (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader) Boeing 737 HS-TDL Thai Airways  (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader) HS-DMJ  (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader)

The first years
The first flights took place from 8. March 1914. However, Don Muang was not opened as a base for the Royal Siamese Air Corps until 27. March 1914. The air force moved its activities from Sa Pathum Airfield to the new base and flew over all the aircraft. Sa Pahthum was then converted into a racecourse. Don Muang was the second airfield built in Thailand and is still the headquarters of the air force today.

From 1924, the airfield was also used for civilian flights. The first airline to fly to Don Muang was the Dutch KLM.

In 1933, the airfield was the scene of fierce fighting between the royalists and government troops in connection with the Boworadet rebellion.

From 1941, the airfield was used by the Japanese troops in Thailand. The Allies attacked the airfield several times, bombing the runway and firing on the parked aircraft.

The Boworadet Rebellion was a coup d'état by Prince Boworadet against the new democracy in Thailand. On 11 October 1933, the prince led troops from Khorat, Phetchaburi and Udon towards Bangkok. In the suburb of Bangkeng near Don Muang airfield, the rebels encountered loyal troops under the leadership of Luang Phibulsonggram. The fighting lasted three days and was fierce, causing extensive damage. On 23 October 1933, Prince Boworadet's uprising was crushed and the prince went into exile in Indochina.

Thai Airways
With the founding of Thai Airways International in 1960, the airport was developed into an aviation hub in Asia. The airfield had two parallel runways and a new terminal building was opened for international traffic

With the Vietnam War, Don Muang became one of the USAF's most important airfields outside Vietnam. In April 1961, the official USAF presence began with the arrival of the 6010th Tactical (TAC) Group at Don Muang in response to a request from the Thai government to establish an aircraft warning system. By 1966, the USAF had expanded its presence in Thailand, utilising six Thai Air Force bases.

By 1970, activities had been shifted to the other bases, but Don Muang remained the administrative centre, coordinating activities and personnel together with the Military Assistance Command, Thailand (MACT). The base was used by the Americans until 1975.

Railway and golf course
In addition to the train connection to Hua Lamphong station in the centre of Bangkok, the airport is also served by the Uttaraphimuk motorway. A planned Skytrain connection to Bangkok could never be realised for financial reasons.

An unusual feature of Don Muang Airport is the fact that the RTAF's Kantarat Golf Course is located between the runways. The golf course has no fixed boundaries to the runways. Golfers are informed of landing aircraft by a traffic light signal (red).

Boeing 737 HS-DDL  Nok Air (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader) View over the tarmac (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader). Boeing 737 HS-TDJ Thai Airways  (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader)  

The end
On 28. September 2006, civilian traffic at the airport was discontinued and the new Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi Airport 25 km east of Bangkok went into operation.

At its peak, more than 80 airlines with 25 million passengers, 160,000 flights and 700,000 tonnes of air freight per year flew to Bangkok via Don Mueang International Airport. In terms of passengers, the airport was ranked 18th in the world and second in Asia in 2005. It had two international and one domestic terminal with a total of 33 gates.

Domestic Terminal at Don Muang used by Thai Airways , Nok Air und One-Two-GO (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader). Sale Point of Nok and One-Two-GO Airilines at Don Muang (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader). Railway at Don Muang (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader).

The reopening
The airport was reopened on 25 March 2007, as Suvarnabhumi Airport had defects in the form of cracks in the runways and capacity problems.

The domestic flights of the airlines Thai Airways, Nok Air and One-Two-GO were again handled from Don Muang. Domestic Terminal 3 was also reopened. International Terminals 1 and 2 were not reopened.

Since 29 March 2009, Thai Airways no longer operates flights from Don Muang. Today, the airlines Nok Air, Orient Thai Airlines, One-Two-GO Airlines and Solar Air are represented at the airport.

Boeing 737 HS-DDJ  Nok Air (Photo courtesy of  Michael E. Fader)


last update 26. Mai 2011

Written 26. Mai 2011


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