Anyone who’s staying in their three bedroom villa in Samui no doubt took an airplane to the island. Koh Samui is Thailand’s third largest island, and is a popular vacation destination. Its airport is well-suited to handling the strain of being located in such a place. However, it would seem there’s a bit of a hiccup.
Surat Thani’s governor has issued an order; a probe into claims made against Samui airport. The claims state that the airport is encroaching on public land. Specifically, a plot of land that has a canal running through, which implies it might be a part of a nearby swampy forest which acts as a water retention area, which would designate the land as public land, not state property. This means that the land in question could not be sold, at least, not through proper legal channels.
The land in question, which covers 16 rai, or 25,600 m2, is not actually part of the airport’s runway strip, but rather, it is an area reserved as sort of an “air safety zone”, wherein any construction or planting is strictly regulated so as to ensure that air navigation doesn’t suffer from obstructions, as per following aviation safety laws.
A National Legislative Assembly had already investigated the issue prior, with the discovery of the canal being part of its initial findings, which the current probe, ordered by Governor Uaychai Innak, will refer to. The provincial probe panel will investigate further to assure that the land was purchased legally, using information acquired from residents, and other local institutions. According to the governor, the probe is to be finished sometime the following week.
Bangkok Airways, the owner of Samui airport stated that they’ve rented the land from the Thailand Treasury Deparment since 1999. It follows up that it leaves the decision of whether the land is public or state property up to local state agencies, and that they are willing to share what information they have.
For those staying in their three bedroom villa in Samui or looking to visit, rest assured the airport will remain functional, though what Bangkok Airways will do regarding the land, should its status be changed remains a mystery.