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Not much room to move at Phuket International Airport

Phuket Airport Rent Row Looms as Shops, Taxis Await Stalled New Deal

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
PHUKET: A meeting is to be held tomorrow at Phuket International Airport over unsigned rental agreements for shops, tour counters and taxi and limousine stands.

Airports of Thailand, which manages the Phuket facility, has yet to renew rental agreements for airport outlets that expire on Friday.

AoT has been quoted as saying that it would prefer to wait six months before renewing the usual three-year leases which cover more than 100 outlets at the airport and involve 1000 employees.

At the same time, contract-winning Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction is readying to begin major work at the Phuket airport from October 1.

The firm's all-Thai workforce, numbering 2000, is beginning to arrive on Phuket in preparation for an extensive makeover of the airport.

Observers believe the enlargement of the Phuket facility - the most important tourism-related facility on Phuket - should have commenced several years ago.

AoT, geared to maximising its investment, charges large rents at airport outlets that oblige retailers to ask three times the price for food, drink and souvenirs charged elsewhere on Phuket.

Taxi and limousine drivers also complain that the high rents asked by AoT contribute towards extortiate fares on Phuket.

And while seeking to be seen as a ''green'' operation, the AoT recently authorised erection of a line of large billboards that hide Phuket's hillside from arriving passengers.

Large old trees in the carpark were also recently axed in preparation for the facility's 5.7 billion baht makeover.

The president of the group representing rental shops at Phuket International Airport, Thammarat Wongjalenyos, said today a letter had been sent to the AoT in Bangkok seeking quick clarification of AoT's plans.

Tomorrow's meeting will include representatives from the retail outlets, limousines and taxis. It was not clear tonight whether AoT will be sending an official from Bangok to negotiate.

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