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Taxis protest over airport ban

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET TOWN: Fifteen drivers from the new metered taxi company Natong Phuket Co Ltd (NPC) gathered at Provincial Hall this morning to lodge a complaint with Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi after being refused entry to Phuket International Airport (PIA). NPC’s Managing Director Adul Lakman and 10 drivers spent an hour discussing the issue with the Governor and PIA Director Lt Cdr Boonchart Prompoon. K. Adul said, “Airport security officers refuse to let NPC drivers in because Phuket Limousine & Business Service Cooperative Ltd [PBC] has the concession to operate at the airport. “PBC doesn’t want us at the airport because metered taxis are much cheaper than limousines. A metered taxi fare from the airport to Phuket Town costs no more than 150 baht, but a limousine costs 360 baht, or as much as 500 baht if the passenger uses the VIP service,” he said. Cdr Boonchart explained, “The problem is that the PBC has the concession at the airport, which means it is the only company allowed to operate or have a stand at the airport.” He also pointed out that the former “black taxi” drivers who are now shareholders in NPC had operated at the airport for the past eight years without a concession. K. Adul explained the NPC had been formed and had bought 15 new metered taxis after the governor ordered a crackdown on black taxi operators at the airport. The crackdown came after a PBC driver was beaten to death by a black taxi driver, which prompted a 300-strong mob at Provincial Hall the next day. The NPC is now under financial strain, K. Adul explained, because, after three months of being denied access to the airport, it cannot afford to pay loan instalments on the 2.25 million baht it borrowed to buy the new cabs. Governor Pongpayome suggested that the airport allow metered taxis to have a sign at the airport so that customers had the option of calling a taxi company, which would in turn radio a driver waiting at a taxi rank just outside the airport. NPC drivers agreed, but Cdr Boonchart argued that the proposition needed to be discussed with PBC first. Negotiations were still underway today. In October, the island’s first metered taxi company, Phuket Taxi Meter Service Ltd, was also denied space at the airport.

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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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