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Limo Drivers Protest at Phuket Airport

Thursday, January 24, 2008
LIMOUSINE and taxi drivers stopped work for four hours today in a peaceful protest at changes to allocation of vehicles at Phuket airport.

Passengers were left to find other ways of getting from the airport, which is already suffering from severe congestion caused by high-season arrivals.

Police and government officials were called to the airport and a senior official from Airports of Thailand was on his way from Bangkok this afternoon to try to resolve the dispute.

A second, rival group of drivers, licensed to operate from today, was due to start working at the airport. When the first few drivers arrived, the original group of drivers stopped work.

The stoppage ended when the driver agreed to wait on the results of talks to be held this evening with airport authorities.

The number of vehicles belonging to the original group, Phuket Limousine and Business Services Cooperative, was cut from 150 to 90 vehicles late last year.

Eighty new allocations were made to Phuket Mai Khao Co Ltd to operate a taxi and passenger van service when they made a successful bid for the business after the initial concession to the cooperative expired.

The cooperative drivers today called for their 60 colleagues, displaced by the new arrangement, to be allowed to return to work.

Since the re-allocation late last year, the Phuket Airport Director, Sq Ldr Pornchai Eua-aree, has been reassigned to Bangkok.

His replacement is not due to arrive on Phuket until early in February. Airports of Thailand controls the allocation of airport vehicle concessions.

The protest today began when the first few of the new vehicles arrived at the airport.

The cooperative has been operating at the airport alone for 13 years. The new group is understood to be a breakway group from the cooperative.

Look for an EXCLUSIVE on Phuket's transport system here soon

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