Published on January 18, 2008
Civil Aviation Department director-general Chaisak Angkasuwan confirmed the starting date of the THAI flights.
THAI will offer two daily flights from Bangkok at 7.45am and 4pm, with return flights from Koh Samui at 9.40am and 5.50pm. The flights were originally expected to start in April.
The decision was made on Tuesday after a meeting between THAI and Bangkok Airways executives. Bangkok Airways owns Koh Samui Airport.
The two airlines are negotiating the fare, which will include the landing fee, ground handling charges and other costs.
Bangkok Airways has until now maintained a monopoly on this route. However, the airline has come under pressure by official bodies and other airlines to open its airport to other carriers. The Transport Ministry had considered building a second airport on the island to open the route to competition.
Koh Samui residents have for years urged Bangkok Airways to offer lower fares.
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes is in Bangkok this week to discuss the possibility of subsidiary Thai Airasia also flying to Koh Samui. Earlier this week, he said he was keen to operate the route.
Local airlines besides Bangkok Airways, including THAI, Thai AirAsia and One-Two-Go, now fly to Surat Thani town, the nearest stop to Koh Samui. From there, passengers must transfer to ferries to get to the island.