Phuket Airport taxi turmoil: Grab’s entry drives cabbies to complain

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Phuket’s International Airport taxi drivers filed an official complaint about reduced income following the inclusion of Grab as an authorized service at the airport, effective from last Friday, September 1.

The complaint was submitted by Chukiat Panyawai, President of Phuket Business Car Service Cooperative Limited, to Rewat Areerob, President of Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO), on September 6.

Members of the PPAO Executive board, including Chanjira Srisongkram, head of the PPAO legal department, were present at the meeting, along with Worrawit Srisakukammeet, Village Chief of Moo 6 in Mai Khao, representing local taxi drivers.

Chukiat’s cooperative, representing 181 drivers, is facing financial strain due to Grab’s presence at the airport. They pay substantial concession fees annually, and drivers are struggling to make enough trips to support their families.

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During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Airport of Thailand (AoT) Phuket decreased fees to 15% of the agreed concession contract due to halted tourism. As tourism recovers, concession fees are nearing the original contract values, creating financial stress for cooperatives.

Chukiat highlighted that previously, cooperatives absorbed losses, but the situation worsened as travellers prefer app-ordered cars over airport taxis. Some days, they have no passengers, despite drivers typically making three trips daily.

Chukiat called on the Minister of Transport to assist villagers working as public service drivers. He proposed discussions with AoT Phuket on concession renewal, reported Phuket news.

Phuket Airport’s General Manager, Monchai Tanode, confirmed taxi concessions expired in June, with cooperatives operating under temporary extensions. Chukiat requested automatic extensions without bidding and reduced concession fees to match app drivers, as residents suffer.

During Grab‘s launch at Phuket Airport, AoT President Dr Kerati Kijmanawat confirmed Grab as the first approved taxi app service there. He also disclosed that more taxi app services applied to operate at the airport, and these applications are being reviewed.

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Phuket News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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