PHUKET CITY: A protest by about 100 airport limousine drivers at Provincial Hall yesterday morning successfully delayed the setting up of a taxi counter in the airport terminal.
It also prevented the number of meter taxis serving the airport from being increased from 30 to 70 with effect from next Monday (July 25).
“The Phuket Taxi Meter counter is currently 50 meters from the terminal, but Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura wants it moved to inside the terminal without [taxi drivers] paying for a concession,” explained Manod Chusak, who runs the limousine counters at Phuket International Airport (PIA).
“At the same time, he wants taxis to have counters set up at every beach on Phuket,” K. Manod added.
He also explained that the Governor, who is due to return from an inspection tour of Turkey and Romania tomorrow, had given his support for the number of taxis serving the airport to be increased from 30 to 70 from Monday, and later boosted to 270.
Weera Kearpanich, Chairman of the Airport Limousine and Business Service Cooperative Ltd, said, “We currently operate four counters at the airport, and this year we are paying more than 1 million baht a month for the concession [for the right to operate a limousine service at the airport].”
K. Manod explained that the concession fee had been increased each year, from 905,267 baht a month in 2003 to 995,794 baht a month in 2004.
On top of the rising fees, K. Manod said, limousine drivers were already suffering from the greatly reduced number of tourists on the island following the tsunami.
“Limousine drivers are currently getting four to six fares between the airport and Phuket City or Patong each day. Before the tsunami the daily average was about eight to 10 fares.
“If taxis set up a counter in the terminal, limousine drivers will have even fewer passengers,” K. Manod said, admitting that tourists prefer to use meter taxis because they are cheaper.
He said that limousine drivers want Gov Udomsak to have the number of taxis serving the airport restricted to the 30 taxis that are currently allowed in.
The protestors disbanded after PIA Deputy General Manager Chan Chiamcharoen said that he would inform the PIA Director immediately of their complaints, and that the moves to improve taxi service would not go ahead until all the affected parties had discussed their problems with the Governor.
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