SUNDAY, April 21, 2024

Phang Nga airport feasibility study back on track in bid to boost tourism in South

Phang Nga airport feasibility study back on track in bid to boost tourism in South

The government has resumed its feasibility study on a new airport in Phang Nga, with the objective of linking the province up with tourist hubs like Phuket and Krabi.

The study is slated for completion in August, Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungruangkit said on Tuesday.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) believes the new airport, dubbed Phang Nga-Andaman International Airport, should alleviate congestion at the Phuket International Airport and handle as many as 22.5 million tourists per year. The 7,000 rai (1,120 hectare) airport costing 80 billion baht is also expected to handle 43 flights per hour.

Though the airport is meant to primarily serve international travellers, there are plans to link it to other airports in the region, like Krabi and Hat Yai, through road and rail networks.

Upon completion of the feasibility study, the proposal will undergo scrutiny by the AOT board, the Civil Aviation Department and the Transport Ministry before it is forwarded to the Cabinet for approval. An environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) will also be conducted before the final approval process.

If given the green light, construction of the airport is slated to commence in 2028 with a targeted completion in 2031.

In tandem with this ambitious project, AOT is eyeing a comprehensive refurbishment initiative for other airports along the Andaman coast. This includes major renovation in Phuket and the potential expansion of Krabi Airport, so it can handle as many as 12 million passengers per year.

Phuket International Airport is also set to expand its facilities with the addition of a new seaplane and ferry terminal. This addition will streamline transportation to coastal destinations along the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, offering seamless access to popular destinations like Khao Lak and Patong Beach.

The renovations are in line with the government’s vision for the Southern Economic Corridor, complemented by the Chumphon-Ranong land bridge project. The upgraded airport infrastructure will also facilitate the transportation of goods through air cargo.

The South of Thailand is popular among tourists for its beaches and nightlife. Phuket was ranked 14th in MasterCard’s list of most visited cities last year, while Krabi and Hat Yai welcomed a combined total of 8.26 million tourists as of 2023.