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Two more passengers and furry cargo await a Phuket flight

Phuket Passenger Numbers Steady: 2009 Unclear

Monday, January 12, 2009
NUMBERS of passengers flying to and from Phuket in 2008 remained at the 5.7 million mark, virtually a replay of the previous year.

Given the turbulence, this was a pleasant surprise. But the total number of flights in and out of Phuket dipped by almost seven percent.

The global economic downturn, the cessation of Nok Air flights, the grounding of One-Two-Go until safety issues were resolved, and the Phuket airport blockade caused setbacks from July onwards.

All that Phuketwan's Person of the Year, airport boss Wing Commander Wicha Nurnlop, was prepared to say about the outlook for 2009 is: ''Wait and see.''

That reflects the approach the entire island and its tourism industry is taking.

What's striking about the airport traffic figures for last year is, appropriately, the ups and downs.

At one point, officials expected passenger traffic to exceed six million. But that was not to be.

The year 2008 took off strongly in January, February and March, with the number of flights up by 13.6 percent for the first quarter. International passenger numbers were up by 26.17 percent.

Then figures levelled out in the second quarter . . . and in July, dropped by 15.89 percent. From there, the minus figure took the controls.

August brought the three-day Phuket protest blockade of the airport and a fall by 28.04 percent, followed by steep drops in September, October, November and December . . . the critical months approaching high season.

It was initially feared December would bring a 30 percent downturn, but that levelled out at 22.23 percent.

Total flights in and out of Phuket amounted to 37,991, compared to 40,799 the previous year.

Passengers increased marginally to 5,730,791 from 5,704,365 the previous year. (A small number of transit passengers are included in those figures.)

International passengers actually increased by 9.99 percent to 2,409,172 while domestic numbers fell by 5.47 percent to 3,321,619.

In line with those figures, international flights rose by 1.72 percent to 17,175 while domestic flights tumbled 12.96 percent to 20,816.

On the freight front, domestic tonnage slipped a little more than international tonnage, with the total of 19,201 tonnes down by 2.63 percent.


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