Destination Air flies on

PHUKET: The managing director of Destination Air has described Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit’s order to suspend flight service to Patong as “anticlimactic”, saying the airline had for months been scheduled to wrap up operations in Patong because of unsafe monsoon-season conditions now setting in.

Pat James told the Gazette that the governor’s decision, taken in the wake of complaints about noise pollution and safety concerns, would have little effect on the company or its customers. (Click here for original story.)

“There is really no reaction from Destination Air to the order, as we were closing out the season anyway. The monsoon winds have already changed and we made arrangements two weeks ago to move our pontoons.

“The governor and everyone were well aware that we were moving everything out of there for the season. It changes absolutely nothing in terms of our scheduling because April 7 was our last day for the season. We can’t go in there now; weather conditions don’t allow it,” he said.

“This is short term. They have asked us to conduct a couple of studies and we are working closely with the Department of Civil Aviation [DCA] and the environmental people, as we have been for the past three to four months.

“The DCA is satisfied that Destination Air was landing and flying in authorized areas. Some people secretly made videos of our takeoffs and landings, but those just confirmed to the DCA that we were operating where we were entitled to be.

“As far as the pollution and the noise, they also did some checks and determined that the levels were acceptable,” he added.

Mr James said Destination Air expect to be operating fully in Patong next high season, though it will transfer passengers by boat rather than taxiing to a floating dock.

“It’s the same as we do at all our other 36 authorized locations,” he said.

Destination Air will comply with the DCA’s request for a new Initial Environmental Evaluation for both the environmental and procedural processes for operating in Patong, and will also apply for a permit to operate as a scheduled carrier, he added.

“We discussed advertising scheduled flights with the DCA and they asked us to begin the process to become a scheduled carrier, so we’ll start the procedure. Between now and then we will not post a schedule. We will have morning and afternoon flights available, but we will not market ourselves as a scheduled airline.

“The announcement was somewhat anticlimactic as far as we are concerned, because there was nothing that resulted from the meeting that wasn’t already pre-planned many months ago. The outcome of the meeting did not surprise anyone; it was anticipated,” he said.

Mr James said he suspects the suspension order to have been a way of pleasing those in opposition to the service.

“The service that Destination Air offers the community and the tourism industry is tremendous for high-end customers, the four- and five-star customers that the governor wants to attract to the area. If you ask if this affects Destination Air in any way, it does, only in the sense that we have a little more work to do over the monsoon season to reinstate ourselves as a more ‘community friendly’ service to the area,” Mr James said.

“As far as our customers are concerned, the main difference will be that instead of being able to walk on and off in a more convenient manner, now we will simply be doing it from a bit further offshore,” he said.

Phuket News

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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