New seaplane operations for Phuket
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New seaplane operations for Phuket

Ministry to launch service by year's end

Tourists relax on a beach in Phuket. (File photo)
Tourists relax on a beach in Phuket. (File photo)

The Transport Ministry aims to launch a seaplane service in Phuket by the year's end as part of the government's aviation hub policy, Deputy Transport Minister Manaporn Charoensri said during a workshop on Thursday.

Ms Manaporn said the aviation hub policy has been laid out by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin as the government seeks to optimise the country's aviation capacity to support growing numbers of international visitors.

She was speaking at the "First Seaplane Operations Towards Thailand's Aviation Hub" workshop that was part of a two-day forum co-organised by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai) beginning Wednesday.

Seaplane operations, she explained, will help visitors access far-flung marine destinations, as well as assist in disaster mitigation and emergency rescue in such areas.

The workshop was arranged to tighten cooperation among air operators, with a focus on how seaplanes can fly to popular marine sites, including Ao Pho and Ratsada Ports in Phuket and Phi Phi Island in Krabi.

The ministry is looking to launch such operations at many popular seaside and island locations, including in Phuket, by the end of this year.

Suthipong Kongpool, CAAT director, said that the CAAT has prescribed safety measures and regulations to be put in place for seaplanes to ensure they are fully compliant with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines.

Nopasit Chakpitak, the Aerothai president, said Aerothai had studied the feasibility of introducing seaplane operations, which he said would provide an added travel option for people and a timely response in the event of medical, public health, or disaster emergency.

Ms Manaporn also told the workshop that the Marine Department is now looking at turning the Phuket Deep-sea Port into a cruise terminal, adding that a study on the issue will be completed by the year's end.

She said the development plan was put in place as cargo ship traffic through the port was dropping, which was partly attributed to the monsoon season, which kept many ships from the port.

The port will become a new hybrid cruise terminal that can be used both as a home port for small and mid-size cruises and as a port of call for larger cruises, such as the 4,900-seated Spectrum of the Seas, said Ms Manaporn.

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