Too Little, Too Late For Phuket Infrastructure Projects
The two day visit of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her cabinet has resulted in a green light for 23 projects worth THB628 million to commence this year. The projects are located the provinces of Phuket, Ranong, Phang Nga, Krabi and Trang.
One clear directive of the cabinet meeting was that the Transport Ministry has asked the AoT (Airports of Thailand) to speed up the construction of the new international terminal in Phuket. Earlier this year AoT had announced a delay in the project setting back completion of the upgrade from 2013 to 2015.
In a move which is baffling to observers the government has also asked for a feasibility study for an airport to be built in Phang Nga, the province adjoining Phuket.
Currently the Krabi airport which has been recently upgraded and has international facilities remains well under capacity. In 2011 it operated at less than 20% of stated capacity servicing 865,334 passengers.
Speaking to authorities at the DCA (Department of Civil Aviation) about the lack of traffic into Krabi, the key issue is the lack of interest by carriers to fly to the destination. It's currently a money losing proposition and one has to wonder why the government would spur a third airport into the region which cannot already support a second.
Despite the array of photo opportunities and electioneering by Bangkok officials there appears to have been little movement on critical mega projects that are needed in Phuket to address the island's stress points.
More questions than answers remain in the political slipstream as to what immediate solutions can be made to AoT's operation at Phuket International Airport. This is not an island crisis but a national one which is being replayed out in Bangkok's Survanabhumi and news that budget carriers will illogically be shifted to Don Muang Airport.
Both IATA and the carriers themselves have vocally opposed the move, but there seems to be a only a one way dialogue.
As April 1st is nearing, I always ponder bringing out the breaking news story of the development of the Rawai airport, as this would seemingly make as much sense as a major facility being constructed off the island in Phang Nga.
We already have one international gateway on our doorstep; let's get that right before we go into new development.