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AOT slashes number of airport limousines

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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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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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