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AOT slashes number of airport limousines

Legacy Phuket Gazette



AOT slashes number of airport limousines | Thaiger

PHUKET: The Phuket Limousine and Business service Cooperative (PBC) is seeking support from the provincial government after Airports of Thailand Public Co Ltd (AOT) slashed the number of vehicles it is allowed to operate at the airport from 150 to just 90 under a new concession.

At an August 15 meeting with Phuket Vice-Governor Tri Augkaradacha, PBC President Manode Chupak said that the sharp reduction would cause many PBC members to lose their livelihoods.

The PBC applied for a renewal of the concession so it could continue working at the airport after its existing contract expired on June 30. It is currently operating 150 vehicles at the airport, comprising 110 cars and 40 vans. All are allowed to continue operating there under a verbal agreement with AOT until the new contract has been signed, he said.

The PBC pays 820,000 baht per month in concession fees to the AOT, an amount which increases 10% annually, he said.

“After our contract ended, AOT asked us to submit a set of documents that included registration papers of all the PBC vehicles that we intend to operate at the airport. I sent a first batch of 90 registration papers, followed by the remaining 60 about a week later.

“The reason for the delay for those vehicles was that the registration papers were needed for insurance renewal procedures. The delay caused us to miss the due date,” he explained.

Of the 60 vehicles that would no longer be able to continue service under the terms now being offered by AOT, 40 are vans and the other 20 limousine taxis.

It is not yet clear whether the drastic reduction represents a simple bureaucratic oversight by AOT, an attempt by that authority to force the PBC to improve its services – or some other cause.

“We received a reply from AOT stating that they agreed to renew the concession for 90 cars, but this letter does not represent a final decision on their part. We still can appeal. When we do we will also submit a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] signed by both the PBC and the Phuket provincial government promising to improve our services,” he said.

PBC drivers have for years been a constant source of tourist complaints, especially against drivers operating its van service. Passengers have been routinely left to wait long periods at a location on the bypass road, where they were hounded by touts selling tours and other unwanted services.

To put an end to that, the PBC on August 12 launched a new 100-baht van service direct to Phuket City and threatened harsh disciplinary action for any driver found continuing the practice.

At the August 15 meeting, V/Gov Tri reiterated the need for the PBC to improve its service and invited local officials from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, AOT and Phuket Provincial Transportation Office (PPTO) to help find a solution to the problem.

Before petitioning the AOT to allow the 60 vehicles to continue operating at the airport, the PBC should first sign an MOU with the province promising to upgrade its service and punish drivers who cause trouble to passengers, he said.

However, the decision whether to allow the 60 vehicles under the new concession would remain at the discretion of AOT management in Bangkok, he said.

The PPTO has not allowed the PBC to increase its rates for three years, he added.

Click here to see our PGTV report.


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