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Phuket Airport B5.7bn expansion “likely to start next year’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Airport B5.7bn expansion “likely to start next year’ | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The 5.7-billion-baht expansion of Phuket International Airport is likely to begin next year, and take two and half years to complete, the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation was told this week.

The Standing Committee, led by Committee Chairman Kecha Saksomboon, heard the news at a high-profile meeting at Phuket Airport on Wednesday.

“The 5.7-billion-baht expansion project has now passed its tender offer process,” explained Wing Commander Pratheep Wichittho, Deputy Director of Airports of Thailand (AoT) Public Co Ltd*, which operates Phuket Airport.

“On August 23, the relevant authorities will consider and decide which construction company will be selected. I believe the project will start next year. The terms of the tender stipulate that construction take no longer than 31 months,” he added.

In light of the impending major construction work, Mr Pratheep explained that all commercial business contracts and concessions to operate taxi and rental car areas at the airport will be extended for only another six months.

Phuket Airport Director Pratuang Sornkham told the meeting, attended by Phuket Senator Thanyarat Achariyachai and Ministry of Transport Inspector-General Sumpun Pongthai, as well as officers from other relevant departments, that more seats had already been installed in the departure lounges and the rest rooms have been renovated.

“We expect nine million people to use the airport this year,” he said.

Once completed, the expansion project is expected to boost passenger capacity at Phuket Airport to 12 million travellers a year.

However, Committee Chairman Kecha said the main purpose of the senatorial visit was to hear the complaint against the airport administration for considering allowing 30 more metered taxis to serve passengers at the airport.

Prakop Punyawai, who presented himself as the “managing director” of the Phuket Car Service Cooperative (PCS), said, “The AOT is considering allowing 30 more metered taxis to serve the airport, but according to the concession we have with AOT, if you allow 30 more metered taxis to serve the airport, you must allow us to boost our numbers by 60 vehicles.

“Under the current concession we have, we now pay the AOT 1.5 million baht a month. This is a very high price,” Mr Prakorp said.

Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) chief Teerayut Prasertpol explained that his office was willing to allow the 30 new metered taxis. The PLTO’s permission is required as the total number operating in the province is regulated.

However, Mr Teerayut said that so far none of the 30 new metered taxis had been registered with his office as commercial vehicles.

The complaint by PCS follows the Phuket Taxi Meter (PTM) Service Co Ltd filing an official request on June 6 to add 30 cars to their fleet of 80 metered taxis at the airport.

The move to boost the taxi fleet came as part of the company’s negotiations to renew its concession. PTM’s current concession is set to expire on September 30.

The Senate Standing Committee acknowledged that it understood the complaint, but did not comment on any remedial action to be taken.

* Airports of Thailand (AoT) is the public company nominated by the Ministry of Transport to operate several of Thailand’s busiest airports, including Phuket International Airport.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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