Owners of hotels and other business establishments have been lobbying the government to consider building another airport to allow more airlines to fly to Koh Samui. Stiff competition, they believe, would bring the price of air tickets for Samui-bound flights down.
Mr. Jarupong said three options submitted by the private sector would be studied close.
One option is to build the airport near the pier in Nathon, pier.
Other alternative locations suggested by the private sector, the minister said, are Donsak and Koh Phangan.
Pros and cons on building another airport in Samui would be weighed carefully, Mr. Jarupong said.
The ministry has estimated the cost of building another airport at about Bt1 billion. And the amount, according to him, does not include the cost of maintenance and other costs. “So before making any decision, all these things have to be carefully studied,” he added.
Mr. Jarupong said the feasibility study could be completed in three months.
The minister said the government is also open to the idea of private investors building the airport themselves.
His office will facilitate issuance of permits should there be people interested in investing in a new airport.
In May, Mayor Ramnate Jaikwang said Samui doesn’t have much space to build a second airport.
The mayor said he understood the need for another airport to bring down the cost of air tickets to Samui. But the island no longer has vast tracks of land for the new airport’s runways.
Leveling mountains to be developed into an airport could destroy the island’s environment and ecological balance, he added.
To ease the island’s air transportation problem, he suggested that the new airport should be built in Donsak in the Suratthani mainland instead.
An airport in Donsak, Mayor Ramnate said, could benefit not just Koh Samui but also Koh Phangan and other destinations both on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman coasts.
It would facilitate travel to other areas in the South, including Nakhon sri Thammaarat province, according to him.
The mayor admitted that the existing airport could no longer accommodate more tourists.
This lack of capacity has made air tickets to Samui more expensive than those to other destinations in the country.
But building another airport on Samui could only complicate, instead of solve, the problem.
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