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Destination Air flies on

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Destination Air flies on | Thaiger

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.

 

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

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 mask violators in Phuket forced to exercise

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Pushups instead of a 6,000 baht fine at a Phuket checkpoint yesterday. (via video screenshot)

For those who have more pounds on their body than pounds in their pocket, exercise punishment seen in Phuket yesterday for mask violators may or may not be welcome. Officials have walked back the strict 6,000 baht punishment for the first warning against someone not wearing a mask and were spotted forcing those who have gone out without a mask to do exercise on the street.

The people forced to exercise were at a Covid-19 checkpoint in the Rawai subdistrict, where the Chalong Police along with local medical workers were checking people yesterday. The checkpoint was set up in an effort to push one hundred per cent mask compliance to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Phuket.

Not only were they checking everyone who passed by to make sure they had their masks, but also to correct those who were wearing their masks improperly. We’ve all seen the people who seem to think that a mask on their chin or underneath their nose is somehow just as effective as a properly worn mask, or at least that they can get away with “wearing a mask” while limiting their personal inconvenience.

Officials were quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of people passing through the checkpoint, both foreigners and Thai, did have their masks with them and were wearing them properly. But they did catch more than 10 people not wearing their face mask or not using them correctly.

Authorities decided to let them off with a first soft warning by moving bodies instead of moving baht. Police made violators do exercise right there on the street in hopes of shaming them into making better decisions next time. All violators did have their names and details taken down with a promise that if they were caught again proper traditional fines would be handed down.

No word yet on any plans to make this punishment into a Tik-Tok Channel.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Tourism

Thai public health and tourism ministers on Phuket to push the July 1 Sandbox reopening

Tim Newton

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Bangkok has sent a couple of ministerial heavyweights to Phuket today to keep pushing the July 1 ‘Sandbox’ bandwagon, insisting that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1.

The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ,along with the Sports and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, are doing the island PR tour today delivering a message from the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who is confirming that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international tourists from the start of July.

Phuket has continued to rack up between 10-20 new Covid infections each day over the past week and still has hundreds of people listed as ‘active cases’. As of today 22% of the island has been vaccinated.

The original Phuket Sandbox model was intended to be quarantine-free. That issue was not made clear during today’s PR trip from the 2 ministers. The full details of how Phuket will open to international tourists, how those tourists might get to Phuket, or where they will visit on an island with its tourist infrastructure shutdown, have not been provided at this stage. It has also not been discussed how long the international tourists will have to remain on Phuket before travelling to other parts of the country.

The Phuket Governor welcomed the prime ministerial delegation to Provincial Hall at lunchtime saying that Phuket would progress with its plans to launch the Phuket Sandbox from July 1.

โ€œAll stakeholders who are frontline warriors working to solve the problem of the Covid epidemic situation have earned the goodwill and concern from Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also believes that Phuket is ready to prepare for the opening of the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1 for sure.”

Phuket Province generated several hundreds of billions of baht of income for the country per year and Thailand relies heavily on tourism income. Indeed, second to Bangkok, Phuket was the government’s golden goose delivering decades of high tourism receipt returns.

Speaking to The Phuket News, Anutin said…

“The government is ready to act as soon as possible. This has been clearly proved, such as by the large number of vaccine doses that Phuket has been allocated to vaccinate the people in the area to cover all groups and be as safe as possible as the โ€˜Phuket Model’.

โ€œWhen the economy is good, everyone gets better, so use patience to believe that good things will follow”.

Another 100,000 Sinovac vaccines arrived on the island to be formerly handed over today by Minister Anutin. An additional 100,000 doses will arrive on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccines are also due to arrive from June, daily reserved for people over 60 years old or people who have other health conditions which require the AZ vaccine instead of the Chinese manufactured Sinovac.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Phuket may ditch light rail and build smart bus system instead

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A Smart bus plan may replace Phuket light rail plans. (via MRTA)

A proposal to drop the light rail planned for Phuket and replace it with a smart bus system is under an in-depth review as ordered by Phuket Transport Minister. Advocates for the smart bus – automated driverless buses on city streets – say that the project would bring mass transportation to Phuket Island for 15.2 billion baht cheaper than a light rail would.

The analysis was ordered Thursday in a phone meeting to check progress on regional transport projects. The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand has suggested changing the plan in Phuket from light rail to a smart bus system. The MRTA had been dead set on the light rail system but have now launched preliminary research on a driverless bus system.

HERE’S a previous story with more details about how the bus system would work, instead of a light rail.

But critics say the planned light rail system was almost unworkable with its routing not going through the main population centres and its complete avoidance of the tourist areas, was doomed from the start. The 5 years it was expected for construction would have caused major traffic snarls on the main island arteries and then reduced traffic flow on those arteries for the life of the light rail project.

Initial investigations show that an automated rapid transit bus system would shave about 9 months off the construction time and 15.289 billion baht from the budget. Cost-saving measures like precast concrete and launching gantries will further reduce construction expenses.

As a result, the bus system could be run with lower passenger fares than a light rail train would. The project was considering 3 bus fares… local in Phuket Town, local outside of Phuket Town, and transport between towns around the island.

The MRTA and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning have coordinated with the Expressway Authority in Thailand to consider the smart bus plan and its effect on traffic. Unfortunately, the group is worried that building the smart bus system plan to be ready by 2026 while working on the Patong tunnel project scheduled to open in 2028 would create long-term detrimental traffic jams. They’re considering a postponement to a 2030 launch (the Patong tunnel project has been in ‘planning’ mode for 20 years and will never happen).

The Transportation Minister has requested proposals for 2 different timelines to be delivered within the next 2 weeks, and plans to have the MRTA and EXAT come to Phuket for public hearings after Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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