Chief of MJets wary of private jet airport plan

The private jet terminal at the southern wing of Don Mueang airport. The Department of Airports is considering building an airport dedicated to private jets.

The plan to build an airport dedicated to private jets with runways and taxiways, mooted by the Thai authority, is not a viable proposition, say industry leaders.

MJets executive chairman Jaiyavat Navaraj said the proposal, which would be the first such facility in Thailand, is not workable.

“This brainchild of the Department of Airports [DoA] is well intended but simply not feasible, judging from the traffic volumes now and in the foreseeable future,” he told the Bangkok Post.

MJets operates Thailand’s largest private jet terminal, offering aircraft chartering and services for private jets, and handles an average of five flights per day at its private jet terminal at the southern wing of Don Mueang airport.

“Until you get a minimum of 18 flights per day, you cannot start thinking about building such an airport,” he said.

Finding land is a huge challenge as the DoA is looking for sites within Bangkok’s vicinity, said Mr Jaiyavat.

“If you look around, you clearly don’t have any plots available for the purpose, and yet there is also the uphill task of getting agreement from communities on where the airport would be built.”

The MJets chief was responding to DoA’s recent move to commission a consultant to investigate the feasibility of building an airport serving executive jets to facilitate the growing traffic and address the lack of parking space available for these aircraft at both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

DoA director-general Darun Sangchai told reporters earlier that the proposed airport should be located “not too far from Bangkok” with good ground transport connecting to the capital.

He estimated the facility should cost less than 1 billion baht to build, which could be carried out in the form of joint venture between DoA and the private sector.

While the project study is expected to be completed by this year-end, DoA plans to earmark 40 million baht to design the facility, which could be up and running in two years’ time.

But Mr Jaiyavat is advocating for Bang Khunthian district, southwest of Bangkok, as being included among the site options for the airport project because of its environment, which could support the undertaking.

Bang Khunthian is not a highly populated area and may therefore face less community resistance, while offering sufficient building space.

It should not be built only for private jets but also certain international airlines flying westward from Bangkok, he said.

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