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Phuket

New company to operate airport limos

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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TAH CHAT CHAI: Phuket Mai Khao Co Ltd has won a concession to operate a new taxi and passenger van service at Phuket International Airport (PIA). The company will operate 60 vans and 20 cars under a three-year concession won with a bid of 33 million baht, Phuket Airport Director Sq Ldr Pornchai Eua-aree told the Gazette.

The company can begin service as soon as the contract is signed, he said.

At the time of the interview with the Gazette, Sq Ldr Pornchai was unable to give details about who the investors in Phuket Mai Khao were or what fares the company would charge.

The new service follows the number of vehicles operated at the airport by the Phuket Limousine and Business Services Cooperative (PBC) being slashed by Airports of Thailand (AOT), which grants the concessions.

The PBC currently operates 110 cars and 40 vans at the airport under a verbal agreement with AOT after its concession expired. The total number of vehicles the PBC will be allowed to operate when the new service begins will be reduced to 90, Sq Ldr Pornchai said.

AOT had earlier cited complaints against the PBC’s quality of service as one of its reasons for reducing the number of PBC vehicles at the airport.

“I informed the governor that we would like to give passengers more options. Bidding on the new concession was open to all parties capable of meeting our terms and providing a quality service. This included the PBC, but they chose not to bid,” he said.

“We will continue to support the PBC because their members are local people. The province asked us why we had to limit their number of vehicles to 90; we explained that this was the number of legally-registered vehicles they have,” he said.

Sq Leader Pornchai did not rule out the possibility that the number could be increased in the future, but said the decision would depend on the ability of PBC drivers to properly register their vehicles and would also be subject to final approval by the AOT.

The AOT board had recently instructed him to “look after” local people and not only cater to the needs of large investors, he said.

The new concession makes Phuket Mai Khao the fourth public transport option at PIA, alongside those offered by the PBC, Phuket Taxi Meter Co Ltd and the Airport Bus service.

“The current transport services are sufficient to meet demand most of the year, though we sometimes face shortages at peak periods during the high season. We also have to consider the total number of vehicles we should allow in Phuket. Roads here are becoming very congested,” he said.

In a related development, AOT chairman Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr visited Phuket on November 30 to discuss expansion plans to keep up with increasing passenger traffic. He ordered that long-term development plans for infrastructure and management be drawn up.

AOT spokesperson Dr Jermsak Pinthong said that PIA management had been encouraged to “think big” when drawing up the plans and to include whether existing runways need to be lengthened or new ones installed, he said.

Describing the need for a new terminal as “pressing”, Dr Jermsak said that AOT had suggested a new seaside terminal and the possibility of separating domestic and international traffic. “We have been informed that passengers face crowding, so we have suggested that the [PIA] management come up with a plan to add new facilities, the work to be carried out in several phases,” he said.

“There are many possibilities, such as building a new terminal by the sea and developing it jointly with a seaport, but that is just an idea at this point,” he said.

PIA was not given any deadlines, but it was understood they were keen to move forward, he said.

On the issue of public transport, Dr Jermsak said it was a local issue to be dealt with by the PIA management team, not the AOT board.

 

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