The Transport Ministry is mulling a plan to build a new state-run airport on Koh Samui as an alternative to the existing privately-run facility amid complaints of high airport fees. The move is also intended to end the monopoly on the airport service on the island. Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan had told the board of Airports of Thailand to study investment viability and find locations to build a second airport on Koh Samui, in Surat Thani.
He said the existing Samui airport, which is operated by Bangkok Airways, is not ready for expansion to cope with the increasing demand for flights.
“There have been complaints of high airport fees that need to be resolved,” the minister said.
The current airport opened for service on March 1, 1989. Located on 509 rai, the airport sits close to residential areas, making expansion nearly impossible.
The airport also has to limit the number of flights to ease noise pollution created by aircraft taking off and landing. Mr Jarupong said the new airport construction plan is aimed at promoting price competition and ending the monopoly on the airport service in the resort island. Local tourism will also be given an added boost.
The ministry may consider entering talks with Bangkok Airways in an attempt to solve the problem and building a new airport is a way to gain bargaining leverage, he said. He said the number of tourists to Samui is increasing, however airport facilities are currently too limited to handle the increasing traffic.
Samui Airport is privately owned and operated by Bangkok Airways. Most flights from the island are operated by Bangkok Airways. Thai Airways international began flights to Samui in February 2008.
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