Tourists Snapping Runway Selfies at Phuket Airport Risk Death Penalty

Mae Love
April 10, 2019

Mai Khao beach is close to Phuket International Airport "and a lot of tourists like to selfie during the plane landing and take off on the beachside". It is known for its incredible beaches and has become a major drawcard for the country.

But airport chiefs warned last week that tourists were in danger of causing crashes and announced plant to shut off a section of the beach to stop pilots becoming distracted.

Tourists will no longer be able to take pictures below landing planes, under new rules enforced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Schapelle Corby, who was released in 2017 after spending 12 years in jail in Bali for drug smuggling, just snapped a photo of herself and her boyfriend Ben Panangian there on Monday - and she is not alone.

"The maximum penalty is the death sentence", Kaeothaithiam said.

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Drones and lights, particularly sunlight reflected off smartphone screens, have become major distractions for pilots landing in Phuket in recent years, and Kaeothaithiam insists that "tourism and safety must co-exist".

"Whilst we want to maintain tourism revenue in the area, it is important that we ensure the safety of the planes as well as visitors to the beach", said Wichit.

One resident, Winai Sae-io, told Phuket News at the time that locals objected to the plan, which they had been told included a goal of keeping 150 metres either side of the airport runway clear.

They're so serious, that people caught taking photos inside the airport's newly-built safety zone near Mai Khao beach could face the death penalty.

"I want (Airports of Thailand, the agency which operates Phuket International Airport) to look at us and support locals in making (a) living here, too".

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