The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) standing committee on transportation has suggested that Phuket International Airport provide more space for passenger seating instead of having a vast shopping mall.
The committee raised its concerns after a visit early this week led by its deputy chairman, ACM Boonyarit Kerdsuk
The visit was aimed at following up on ongoing renovations and inspecting services at the airport following numerous complaints from passengers, tour companies, media and government departments.
Director of Phuket International Airport Petch Chancharoen took the committee on a tour to observe the renovations, customer service, check-in counters, immigration service and sitting areas of both the domestic and international terminals. A meeting to discuss problems and management development followed.
After the tour, Boonyarit said that there was not nearly enough seating at the terminals, because about 60 per cent of the area had been set aside for shops. He said some of the shops even hid the beautiful landscaping of the runway and the sea views.
“There should be spaces for passengers to wait for their flights. It should be at least 70 per cent for passengers and 30 per cent for the shops,” he said.
He said the topic needed to be discussed with the whole committee, as “we do not want Phuket Airport to become another mall”.
Boonyarit said that Phuket International Airport must develop better services for both arrivals and departures, including immigration, customs and police.
ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) safety standards still needed to be improved as Phuket Airport has limitations in terms of geography, he said.
“There should be more and better air-conditioning as well. Some spots in the domestic terminal are very hot because of the unfinished renovation,” he added.
Boonyarit also suggested that the airport make more announcements on the effects to flights due to current runway and taxiway maintenance, especially during April when the number of passengers would increase.
Meanwhile, Petch said obstacles at the airport recently included a lack of facilities, problems with lighting and electricity systems, and urgent runway-surface repairs.
“The whole renovation hasn’t yet finished, but when it finishes, the airport will have a capacity of 12.5 million passengers. The number of tourists in Phuket last year exceeded 16.5 million people, so the demand already exceeds management and capacity limits, but we are trying our best.”
Boonyarit said he would bring a report from this visit to discuss with government officials and individual sectors from the four Andaman provinces.