Will Construction on Koh Phangan Airport Continue?

For over two years there hasn’t been any work done on Koh Phangan Airport. The area had been cleared and much of the land for the runway had been flattened and prepared for the first concrete pour. The architect’s plans for the terminal buildings had been signed off and their position on the site marked.

Although slow, there had been continuous progress on the project since the 2012 inception of Kan Air’s plan to build an airport on the island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand. In 2015 that slow progress came to a permanent halt when government officials discovered that a 20-Rai section of the airport infringed on Than Sadet National Park.

This illegal state of affairs remains an impasse. As does lack of funds – Kan Air were looking for partners in the project in order to get a boost of funds.

Is this the end?

Not necessarily. The law is not an insuperable obstacle in Thailand. The constitution was re-written a few years ago to favour the military and legitimise its position. National Park land in Thailand has been encroached on before. The authorities are often slow to clear the land, and sometimes have a de facto rather than de jure approach to public land management.

Kan Air is not a heavy weight in the aviation world. It is very much a fledgling carrier looking to emulate the success of Bangkok Airways. If the green light was given on the land status and construction was allowed to recommence then money might be found from either Thailand or abroad. The commercial idea of an airport on Koh Phangan is attractive as the island has a large influx of visitors every month for the Full Moon Party.

It is unwise to speculate but it is also perhaps premature to completely dismiss the possibility of an airport being built on Koh Phangan.

Media and Koh Phangan Airport

First published in June 2012

What the media and those who comment say about the airport

Below is a sample of media stories concerning Koh Phangan Airport. They are taken from the internet. I have chosen a forum, a blog and two major news providers. The aim of this post is to first establish that the airport is not a fiction, and secondly to show how the story is presented and how people have reacted to the story.

Lonely Planet Thread

The Lonely Planet forums are a good place to gauge traveler opinions. The thread was started in May 26th, 2012. It is longer on the LP website. As with many threads on Lonely Planet it is dominated by people who want to prove that they are right, that they have a monopoly on common sense and cultural insight. What is interesting is that there are two clear reactions to the airport. One is shock and disappointment. It is assumed that the airport will turn Koh Phangan into ‘another Koh Samui’. The other is denial. The deniers make statements about the geography of the island with the certainty of land surveyors.

Am i right in thinking that an Airport is about to be built or has been built on Ko Phangan?? please tell me it isnt true.

Another fucked up Island like Samui, developers, and sky high prices for mediocre propertys, at the moment the only thing that stains the island is the fullmoon ( lets rape a western woman) parties but thats once a month, this will kill it…..i can see all the bent coppers and mafia with there Yaba lining the airstrip waiting to fleece the unsuspecting flier to the island already…..hoards more women and trashy bars like Samui…what a crying shame..

  1. Progress baby, progress.
    I once had useful links here about medical tourism to Thailand and Thai airlines. That was before mods started destroying the usefulness of TT.
  2. As far as I know there is no airport (or at least not operational as yet)in Koh Phangan but there is defiantly one in Samui.
  3. Gotta love those defiant airports.
  4. Don’t worry, Koh Pan Gnan is a fucked up waste with or without an airport.
  5. Yes, that started to built it a few months ago, but they need a long time because they built it in the highlands near Thong Nai Pan. Now they cut many trees there and make the street.
  6. Another fucked up Island like Samui.
  7. Ko Pha Ngan in 2033, a prediction I originally made in 2008 but it sounds like Doomsday might be coming to KPN earlier than I expected 🙁
  8. Too late, they already have Tesco Lotus 😉
  9. Too late, they already have Tesco Lotus 😉
    and that’s always a nail in the coffin! 😉
  10. #6 has hit the nail on the head. Development rolls on.
  11. Apparently, East Timor is the place to be these days.
  12. ^^Read #6 post again and re-think your post!
    How many friggin airports have you seen in the highlands?
  13. Some folks on KP without doubt would be delighted with an airport so it can become the place the OP troller thinks Samui is, but it ain’t going to happen due to the mountains. KP just doesn’t really have the space for an airport.
    Now let’s have this post settle dust so in a few months we can have the same discussion again.
  14. Too right, topography presents a real obstacle to it ever happening on KPG (and by the way there is an award-winning airport 20km away by ferry). Still the idea of landing at Thong Sala International is amusing.
  15. it will never happen.
    simply not enough room.
    TELL EM THEYRE DREAMing

Phangan Blog

www.phanganaccommodation.net

The comments found on Koh Phangan Blog are in a similar vein. They bemoan the fact and they deny the fact.

  • jimcogan
    May 18, 2012 at 2:08 amWhere near Chaloklam?! Can’t imagine any place near there flat enough for a long runway!
    Reply
    Duwe
  • May 18, 2012 at 2:16 amTo get at the pearl, you first have to KILL the oyster, this is a grand mistake, and will bring about the ‘Ko Samuisation’ of fair KPN, the full moon and weekly parties were bad enough, but this is the coffin lid nail….sad to see the last ‘paradise’ finally becoming another Spanish Costa style ruination, degradation, and utter despoilment….this is a sad day, and will be the end of Beautiful KPN…oh, by the way, isn’t the WHOLE ISLAND supposed to be a national park..oh yes it is ….right!
    Reply
    Stephen
  • May 18, 2012 at 10:50 amAbsolutely disgusting. Within 5 years Koh Phangan will be another Samui, fat old westerners fighting for a spot on the beach. I guess money has won again. Bye bye Koh Phangan, you were a magical island. RIP
    Reply
    Philipp
  • May 18, 2012 at 6:14 pmThis makes me really sad. ;-(Isn’t it just unbelievable how fast things are changing? It was such an amazing great place just a couple of years ago… So thankful that I experienced this special place a lot of beautiful months… and so sad I never will again :-/
    Reply
    Thomas
  • September 24, 2012 at 11:18 pmI know now more or less where i can think that place will be, Did talk of this in both i also talk about it in 2008 we said nah man aint gonna happen never cheers, then again 2009 same spot at KHP dude did you get this they plan a air port ! nah man they cant where the fuc are they gonna put it mate ? eh . back again 2010 hey thomas they do talk of it know but may be in 5 years or so maybe and now look at it airport on the way to Chaloklam wow that earea is so nice what of kah ra? and dont forget the bloody oil drilling they oush at the north side of khp and around kho tao, this is now soon the place i cant go back to stay loong time eny more. last trip i do this winter so i guess this will be good bye for me also to the jem:-(

CNN

CNN

If anyone is still in doubt here is a screen shot from the CNN website announcing the arrival of an airport to Koh Phangan. The article links the airport to the Full Moon Party. As discussed in a previous article, the Full Moon Party has made the island famous, but it seems likely that it is Thong Nai Pan that is more important in the decision to build an airport on Koh Phangan.

Bangkok Post

Bangkok Post

The Bangkok Post also covers the story. It makes the financial sector of the newspaper which I find an odd decision as the financial section of news media often attracts little attention. You would have thought that the story deserved more exposure.

The Bangkok Post article focuses on Kan Air or Kannithi Aviation that was founded in 2010. It reveals that the company has made a quick fortune since 2010 collecting debts, and that Koh Phangan Airport is part of an ambitious plan to become a major budget carrier. The Bangkok Post article is in many ways the source of other articles – CNN repeats the facts from the Bangkok Post, and adds very little of its own.

Conclusion

The story of Koh Phangan Airport is not a fabrication. While the main media has not made much of the story those who regard themselves as travelers and who are compulsive comment makers generally disapprove of the airport. Those who approve of the airport obviously do not feel the need to add their two pence worth.

The angry reaction is partly due to the way people have a habit of appropriating places they love. Koh Phangan becomes their island; and so what happens to the island becomes a personal matter. Also ex-pats who stay in a place for a few months or a few years are fond of parading their expert status. It becomes so much a part of their psychological make-up that they are unaware they are doing it.