Phuket airport slaps ban on private jets
Phuket airport has slapped a blanket ban on private jets this holiday season.
Much to the dismay of high-net-worth travellers and private jet operators, no specific reason was given for the unprecedented restriction, which lasts until Jan 5.
Officials of the Civil Aviation Department and the Slot Coordinator and Schedules Coordination Department, the body that manages the airport's flight time slots, served the directive at short notice.
The instruction means that no private jets, except those involved in transporting patients, VVIPs (very very important persons) and the government sector, can land, take off and park, regardless of whether it is short term or overnight, at the country's third-busiest airport during that period.
But it is understood that heavy congestion involving commercial airlines' traffic during the festive season is the prime reason.
The slot coordination authorities have privately indicated to some private jet operators that a shortage of manpower is another reason, as many airport staff were taking days off at this time of the year.
Operators said the ban means a significant economic loss, especially for the southern island resort, a preferred holiday destination for well-heeled flyers who travel on private jets.
Each of them can easily inject 500,000 baht a day into the province's economy, and they spend an average of five days on the island.
Without the ban, five private jet flights make it to Phuket each day in the duration.
The ban will chase elite travellers away from Phuket to other resort destinations.