So you’ve found a great deal on a luxury resort in Koh Samui this Christmas/New Year… now all you need to do is to find your way to your little piece of paradise – preferably without it costing you an arm and a leg. This article will share with you the latest details on flights and last minute travel alternatives to Koh Samui island; so you don’t have to get stressed whilst organising your perfect Koh Samui holiday.
Background: The Airport Dilemma
Koh Samui airport is a truly memorable experience – from the moment you set eyes on the quaint, rustic Thai sala style terminals, through to the cute tuk-tukesque buses and the luscious, tropical green gardens dotted with coconut palms. Kudos to the designers because they managed to capture the very essence of Koh Samui’s paradise island in this airport.
It’s so perfectly attuned with the beautiful local surroundings and the many boutique resorts and spas that make their home on this island that my girlfriend just took a look at the header image and asked me “Which of Koh Samui Hotels is that?”
Although being one of the most beautiful and uniquely designed airports in the world, there is a downside – all this great design was paid for by a private company – Bangkok Airways and; like all companies – they want their money back …and more!
Basic economic theory teaches us that when any company has a monopoly they can increase their profits by reducing demand and increasing price. Bangkok Airways have invested a lot of money in this airport and have a responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profits. Unfortunately what this means for us is their current business strategy is based on catering to a specific niche market – premium end travellers who pay high fares.
According to Bangkok Airways public relations department they are keen to expand Koh Samui as an international hub. Unfortunately this is happening more slowly than most local resort owners and hoteliers on the island would like. During peak season this seems to be becoming a major bottleneck in the number of visitors that can enjoy Koh Samui’s wonderful natural surroundings.
Current Airlines flying to Koh Samui
We did a little research on flights departing Koh Samui on a single day in 2010. (Aug 4)
|Flight Data from 20/12/10||City|
|Airline||BKK Bangkok||HKG Hong Kong||HKT Phuket||SIN Singapore||SZB Kuala Lumpur||UTP Pattaya||Total|
So we can see that the claims of Bangkok Airways to want to establish Koh Samui Airport as a regional transport hub are somewhat valid; there are quite a number of major airlines now flying direct to Koh Samui including – somewhat surprisingly the Malaysian carrier Firefly. Interestingly, Firefly recently named Koh Samui, Thailand as it’s most popular regional destination in a recent press release so the premium branding of Koh Samui as an upmarket holiday destination appears to be working well.
Koh Samui airport – Total passenger capacity
If we crunch the numbers based on the flight data and the aircraft type we can get an excellent estimate of the maximum passenger capacity per day going through Koh Samui airport – it works out at approximately 5,000 departing and 5,000 arriving per day. so 10,000 potential flyers per day – Airport statistics say Koh samui airport has about 1.3M flyers every year so we can deduce that the average plane lading and taking off over the course of a year is only 35.6% full.
Where best to fly from?
Over 75% of those visitors come through Bangkok, so it’s the best place to transit through – if Bangkok airways are full you may want to try Etihad (452 seats) or EVA (372 seats), if your still out of luck, try Thai airways, Air Berlin, KLM and Air France in that order.
If your not having any luck finding a flight via Bangkok the best alternative routes are through either Phuket (272 seats/day) and Singapore (248 seats/day). Last resorts would be Hong Kong (124 seats/day), Kuala Lumpur (136 seats/day), Krabi (136 seats/day) and Pattaya (136 seats/day).
One can only assume that the various budget flight operators in Asia are put off by Bangkok Airways high landing fees. The likes of Air Asia, Nok Air, Tiger Airways, and JetStar are all happily ignoring Koh Samui.
If you are seeking a budget fare and have a little time on your hands there is a solution. What I recommend is to fly to the regional airport on the mainland – SuratThani which is served by both Air Asia and Nok Air and then take a bus and a boat on to Koh Samui. Best travel time from touching down in SuratThani to setting foot on Koh Samui would be around 150 minutes. We detailed this excellent travel alternative in our previous article “Getting to Koh Samui by Sea” check it out if this appeals to you.
So you’re now armed with the essential knowledge you need to head out and do some happy hunting for flights, let me know if the information helped you find your dream vacation and if you have any other nuggets that can help others experience their perfect escape please drop us a note in the comments below!
Enjoy your trip!