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Koh Phangan Airport, Thailand

Provincial and forestry authorities intervened to halt construction of an airport on Koh Phangan, a mountainous, beach-fringed island in the Gulf of Thailand, when it was discovered that land clearance encroached on forest land in Than Sadet National Park


Opposition to an airport in Koh Phangan, a mountainous, beach-fringed island in the Gulf of Thailand, can be traced back to May 2004. At this time, three years after rumours surfaced that an airport was planned on the island, reporters for Koh Phangan Island News spotted three protest signs on trees along the west coast between the villages of and Srithanu and Wok Yum. One of the signs read“Rau Mai Au Sa-Naam Bin Thi Nii” which means “We don’t want an airport here!” Another sign read “Thi Choo Ruea – Mai Chai Thi Choo Ruea Bin”, meaning “This is a port for boats and not for airplanes!”[1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Koh Phangan Airport, Thailand
State or province:Surat Thani Province
Location of conflict:Koh Phangan
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In September 2013 Somphong Sooksanguan, president of Kannithi Aviation Company Limited, also known as Kan Air, a small airline with a hub at Chiang Mai, said he was considering offering a 34-40% stake in a new airport on Koh Phangan island to local or foreign investors to help meet the USD28 million construction costs. A facility with a 1,100 meter runway and capacity to handle 600,000 passengers annually was proposed.[7] In September 2015 Surat Thani provincial authorities ordered Kan Air to suspend construction because land clearance for the airport had encroached on about 3.2 hectares of forest land in Than Sadet-Koh Phangan National Park.[3] The total land area being prepared for the airport was 24 hectares.[4]

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Project area:24
Level of Investment for the conflictive project57,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:10/05/2004
Company names or state enterprises:Kannithi Aviation Company Limited (Kan Air) from Thailand - Developer and manager of Koh Phangan airport project
Relevant government actors:Surat Thani Province
Royal Forest Department
Department of Special Investigations
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Surat Thani Forest Protection Unit 6
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Surat Thani provincial authorities ordered a halt to construction work in September 2015
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Provincial and forestry officials intervened to enforce regulations, halting construction of Koh Phangan Airport when it was discovered that land clearance in preparation for construction work had encroached upon forested land in San Thadet National Park.
Sources & Materials

[1] Local Thai Protest against International Airport on Koh Phangan Island, Koh Phangan News, 10 May 2004
[click to view]

[2] Koh Phangan airport could be open by 2016, Koh Phangan News, 4 July 2015
[click to view]

[3] Phangan airport encroaches on forest: officials, Bangkok Post, 30 September 2015
[click to view]

[4] Officials ground Koh Phangan private airport project, Bangkok Post, 29 May 2017
[click to view]

[5] Koh Phangan airport project hits snag, Bangkok Post, 9 June 2017
[click to view]

[6] Will Construction on Koh Phangan Airport Continue?, Koh Phangan Airport, 2 October 2017
[click to view]

[7] Koh Phangan Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)
[click to view]

[8] Thailand's Kan Air suspends ops due to grounded fleet, ch-aviation, 24 April 2017
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Drone flight over Koh Phanga Airport construction site, Airport Koh Phangan / overflown with my drone / 10.1.2015, Florenz Kittel, 11 January 2015
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected], Sara Mingorría,ICTA, UAB
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:4014
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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