PHUKET CITY: Representatives of the Phuket Limousine and Business Services Cooperative (PBC) yesterday said they would continue to fight the Airports of Thailand (AOT) decision to slash the number of PBC vehicles operating at Phuket International Airport from 150 to 90.
Following a meeting with Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit, PBC Secretary Niphon Piromrit said, “We have 110 saloon cars and 40 buses. If AOT wants to cut that down to 90 vehicles, it will be very difficult for us to choose which cars and drivers will remain and who will be left out.
“It’s unfair because we have tried to improve our service. We don’t mind if another company is also allowed to operate at the airport – we want to help tourism in Phuket – but we will fight to keep our service as it has been in the past.
“All I can say is that we will fight this and I cannot promise that there will be no problems,” he said.
The meeting with Governor Niran came amid AOT accepting bids for a new limo operator to start operating at the airport. AOT started accepting bids on Monday, with close of business tomorrow as the deadline.
Governor Niran, however, stayed firmly on the sideline. He suggested that the PBC yet again appeal to AOT to change the conditions offered, citing the large number of PBC members whose livelihoods would be affected.
However, he added that AOT had the right to choose who would serve the airport, with the interests of visitors to Phuket as its priority.
Earlier this year, AOT offered the PBC to continue their concession from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2009, but with only 90 vehicles at the airport. In line with having less vehicles operating, the AOT set the concession fee at 428,000 baht per month for the first year and the fee for the second year yet to be set.
The PBC currently pays about 877,000 baht a month.
From July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007, under the previous concession, the PBC paid AOT about 1.2 million baht a month.
The PBC immediately declined the offer and asked the AOT to reconsider the deal. However, after a review by the AOT board in Bangkok, AOT on October 26 said they would not alter the conditions offered.
AOT referred to persistent complaints by passengers of PBC’s service as part of the reason for the auction, which began November 19 and will end tomorrow.
For years there have been consistent complaints from tourists who had been aggravated by unscheduled stops on the bypass road by PBC vehicles so that touts could sell tours and other services unwanted by the passengers.
In response, the PBC on August 12 launched a 100-baht van service direct to Phuket City and threatened harsh disciplinary action for any driver found continuing the practice.
Until a new concession is signed, the PBC will continue operating 150 vehicles at the airport under a verbal agreement with AOT.
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