Phuket seaplane to take flight by year-end in tourism boost

Picture courtesy of The Star

The holiday island of Phuket is slated to receive a seaplane service by the end of the year, a move steered by the Transport Ministry as an extension of the government’s aviation hub policy. Deputy Transport Minister, Manaporn Charoensri, revealed the development during a workshop yesterday.

The aviation hub policy, Manaporn elaborated, was orchestrated by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. The aim is to fully utilise the nation’s aviation capacity to accommodate an increasing influx of international tourists.

Manaporn was addressing the attendees of the First Seaplane Operations Towards Thailand’s Aviation Hub workshop. The two-day event, which began on Wednesday, was a collaboration between the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (AEROTHAI).

Manaporn stressed that the introduction of seaplane operations will not only cater to tourists aiming to visit remote marine destinations but will also serve as a valuable resource for disaster mitigation and emergency rescue in such regions.

The workshop was convened to amplify cooperation between air operators, focusing on the potential for seaplanes to service popular marine locations, including Ao Pho and Ratsada Ports in Phuket and Phi Phi Island in Krabi.

The ministry’s vision is to inaugurate such operations in a variety of popular seaside and island locations, including Phuket, before the close of this year.

Safety guidelines

In the interest of safety, the CAAT has established safety guidelines and regulations for seaplanes to ensure they align with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, said Suthipong Kongpool, the director of CAAT.

AEROTHAI President Nopasit Chakpitak further shared that AEROTHAI has explored the feasibility of implementing seaplane operations. He believes that it would expand travel options for individuals and enable swift response during medical, public health, or disaster emergencies.

In addition to the proposed seaplane service, Manaporn disclosed that the Marine Department is considering transforming the Phuket Deep-sea Port into a cruise terminal. This study is projected to conclude by the end of the year.

The motivation behind this development plan, according to Manaporn, was the declining cargo ship traffic at the port, partly due to the monsoon season deterring many vessels. The envisioned terminal will serve a dual purpose, accommodating small and mid-size cruises as a home port, and larger cruises, such as the 4,900-seater Spectrum of the Seas, as a port of call.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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