PHUKET: It’s been three months since the new Phuket International Airport terminal was officially opened, but the moans and groans about the efficiency of the airport remain, with passengers complaining of long delays at immigration counters – whether inbound or outbound.
Even the domestic terminal has seen long queues waiting for luggage, and a chaos of cars, taxis and limousines upon exiting the terminal, either picking up or dropping off passengers
Last year, passenger arrivals at Phuket International Airport exceeded the six million mark and it is expected that this year that will be easily surpassed.
The ‘alternative’ airport nearest to Phuket is Krabi, which is at least a two-hour drive away. It reports passenger arrivals close to the two million mark.
A proposal to build a new airport just north of Phuket into Phang Nga province has been put forward. The proposed site is on a 2,000 rai (3.2 million sqm) land plot in Thai Muang district. More detailed information has yet to be released of the proposed facility, other than its name, which would be Phang Nga Andaman International Airport.
Tourism industry sources have confirmed that Bangkok Airways, the current operator of Koh Samui International airport, are the ones behind the negotiations with Phang Nga provincial authorities.
This is indeed welcome news for Phang Nga province and it is expected that beach land prices along the coast from the Sarasin Bridge all the way to Khao Lak will increase, and that the land will be snapped up, with foreign investors and international hotels brands all jockeying for a position.
A prominent Thai developer has begun development of a mixed use compound of luxury residential and vacation villa units in Phang Nga. With the news of a potential airport in the province, this will surely spruce up the real estate market there.
Currently, along the west coast of Phang Nga, beachfront land is still available at relatively lower prices than in Phuket. It is expected that more investment development, especially in the hotel sectors, will follow with the news of the proposed airport.
Hotels and businesses in Khao Lak will be the biggest beneficiaries of the proposed airport as it will cut out the need for road travel from Phuket International airport and bring the passengers directly into the Khao Lak area.
This will also assist the overloaded Phuket International airport by off loading some flights and passengers who decide to opt for the peace and quiet that Khao Lak has to offer.
With the proposed airport, the potential for growth in the area will now be on a faster track. The tranquility that Khao Lak is known for will soon disappear, so those wanting to savor it should head there soon before it turns into another Phuket.
Amy Koh is the sales manager of Engel & Voelkers Phuket. www.engelvoelkers.com/en/phuket
— Amy Koh