4th Jul 2017
A year ago, Bangkok Airways and the government of Phang Nga announced a project to construct a commercial airport here. Fast forward to today and they are still struggling to present the airport as feasible to potential investors.
The airport, whose working name is Phang Nga-Andaman International, is planned to be constructed in about 2,000 rai of forest land in Baan Tha Dindaeng, Lam Kaeng Village in Thai Muang District of Phang Nga. It would include a 3,000 meters runway, which would make it 65% longer than the runway at Koh Samui for example.
The local population, however, is against trading their forest for an airport, one villager saying:
For myself, I agree with the airport idea as it will boost incomes for the people of Lam Kaeng village and for Phang Nga province generally. But part of the land is in mangrove forest. I worry that the Thai government and other shareholders will not be able to come up with enough money to compensate the local people who will have to evacuate the area and find new homes elsewhere.
On the other hand, Phang Nga Governor Pakkapong Tawiphat claims the forest has ‘deteriorated into a bad condition’ and had submitted report to the Royal Forest Department about this. He also said that the airport project ‘must go on for the sake of Phang Nga’s provincial economy and for the Thai tourism industry as a whole’.
Director General of RFD Cholatit Suratsawadee said the Environmental Impact Assessment for the area where the airport is planned is pending and added:
We are not yet ready to allow Bangkok Airways to begin construction. The RFD has to listen to many environmental and local sectors in order to consider project endorsement under the law before it can go to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for consideration.
Meanwhile, marine expert Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat played down Governor Pakkapong’s enthusiasm regarding the state of the forest, saying that there needs to be a ‘deep examination of the forest to prove that it is in bad condition and difficult to revive’.
Bangkok Airways, in the meantime, declined to comment directly about all of this, promising a press release ‘when the timing is right’.