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Call to subsidize airlines’ costs



Call to subsidize airlines’ costs | Thaiger

PHUKET: The Chairman of Orient Thai Airlines has called upon the government to subsidize airlines using Phuket International Airport as a way to boost tourism to the island.

Udom Tantiprasongchai said yesterday that his airline would like to see the government waive the airport departure tax, offer free visas on arrival to passengers and excuse airlines from paying landing and navigation fees at Phuket for six months.

K. Udom said that, before the tsunami, Orient Thai brought around 270,000 passengers a year from Hong Kong and Korea to Phuket. Since the tsunami, however, it had brought fewer than 15,000. The company has slashed its service between Hong Kong and Phuket from one flight a day to two a week.

He said, “We have already offered 10,000 free international tickets and reduced a 10,000 baht-plus fare to only 5,000 baht, but still there hasn’t been much movement of passengers.”

He said he submitted his plan to boost tourism to Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop at the end of January, but had had no response so far.

“If this plan were passed, every airline would get the benefit, not only us,” he said. “It would reduce the cost for passengers by about 2,000 baht, and seeing as price is an important factor for customers, I believe this saving would help persuade them to come here.

“The Western winter is nearly over; hotel occupancy in Phuket is still in the doldrums and the low season will be here soon. I’ve done all I can to help the situation. I’ve tried, but I’ve got nowhere.

“The only thing I can think of now is to appeal to the government to help the airline industry by giving these subsidies.”


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