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Thai government to investigate feasibility of second airport at Koh Samui
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Koh Samui

Thai government to investigate feasibility of second airport at Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways owns Samui International Airport (USM),
operating a fleet of ATR-72 propjets and Airbus A319 jets to the facility.

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 03:40 PM PDT

Thai tourism officials are currently examining the option of building a second airport at the resort island of Koh Samui in the gulf of Thailand.

At present, the island is served by one airport, Samui International Airport (USM) which is wholly owned by the country’s largest private carrier, Bangkok Airways.

Thailand’s Transport Ministry is currently looking into the viability of a state-run airport on the popular tourist island to offer an alternative Samui International. The move comes as passengers complain of high fees, and airlines operating flights to the privately owned facility complain of high airport charges.

Thailand’s Minister for Transport, Jarupong Ruangsuwan, has instructed government airport management group, Airports of Thailand (AoT) to examine the investment viability of building a second airport on the island of Koh Samui.

Jarupong said that the existing facility on the island was not in a position to be expanded to cope with the rising demand in flights to Koh Samui.  The airport, which was build in 1989, is situated on the border of a residential area and the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, which renders almost any move to expand the airport as impossible.

“There have been complaints of high airport fees that need to be resolved,” the minister said.

The minister highlighted the benefits that a second airport would bring to Koh Samui and the surrounding islands. Local tourism would be given a boost as a second facility would offer price competition on routes to the island and end Bangkok Airways’ monopoly on flights to and from Samui.

One of the options that has been suggested is to enter talks with Bangkok Airways to discuss various measure to solve the problem. Jarupong said that by building a new airport is a sure way to gain bargaining leverage.

The Thai government is examining the option of constructing an alternative to Samui International Airport (USM).

At present, current facilities at Samui International are too limited to cater with the rise in flights departing and arriving at the island.  The limitation in fights has had a detrimental effect on smaller hotels and resorts on the island, leading to an oversupply of rooms and an all-out price war.

The transport minister said that construction on the island must be worthy of investment and take into account the landscape and environment surrounding the facility.

A survey was carried out into the feasibility of a second airport on the island in 2003 that revealed a new airport would cost 2 billion baht to construct.  The ideal location for the facility would be 14 km away from the current airport on the western coast of the at Na Muang.

Article Source: thaitravelnews.net

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