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Officials silent on Phuket Airport immigration mess

PHUKET: Officials at Phuket International Airport have fallen silent on why long immigration queues persist at the island’s key tourism portal, frustrating tourists by taking hours for them to clear entry to the country.

tourism, transport, immigration,

The Phuket News

Friday 28 October 2016, 05:37PM

The long delays continue despite promises by Transport Minister Lt Gen Arkhom Termpittayapaisith last month that more officers had been assigned to bolster immigration at Phuket Airport to reduce long queues of tourists waiting to enter and leave the country. (See story here.)

First-hand reports provided to The Phuket News over the past two weeks have detailed how travellers were forced to wait hours to be cleared by immigration officers.

“I picked some friends up on Wednesday night (Oct 19) and their flight landed at 11:16pm from Korea and I was still waiting for them at 12:40am,” one expat told The Phuket News.

“They said only three desks were open and 300 passengers had arrived on a 777 – and they had only three staff to get them through immigration! It’s crazy! They know what passengers and planes are arriving so why not more staff?” he mused.

A week later, on Wednesday morning (Oct 26), The Phuket News received a similar report, with the Immigration Arrivals hall crammed with passengers at 8:30am while they waited to have their passports stamped.

Apparently only four desks were open to clear the arriving tourists, despite the new International Airport terminal boasting a total of 19 immigration counters for 38 officers in total in the Arrivals Hall.

As recently as last night (Oct 27), one Australian tourist described pandemonium in the immigration arrivals hall as hundreds of tourists arrived in Phuket at the same time.

“Four planes had just landed but there were only two immigration desks open,” he said.

“Also, there were no immigration arrival cards for people to fill out. Finally, when one official did arrive with the cards, he was nearly mugged by a mob of passengers waiting to get out of there,” he added.

C and C Marine

Pol Lt Col Arom Kwannet, Deputy Chief of the Phuket Airport Immigration Office, explained to The Phuket News today (Oct 28) that he was unauthorised to comment on the issue.

“We don’t have permission to reply media, only the chief can do that,” Col Arom said.

Phuket Airport Immigration Chief Col Supphachoke Yongstar, however, was repeatedly not unavailable for comment throughout this week.

Phuket International Airport Director Monrudee Gettuphan declined to respond specifically about the current long delays for tourists clearing immgration.

Ms Monrudee instead cited the Phuket International Terminal fact sheet as saying, “The terminal provides 17 passport checking points with 34 counters at Outbound Passport Control and 19 passport checking points with 38 counters at the Inbound Passport Control.”

The new terminal, built at a cost of B5.67 billion and offering more than 73,000 square metres of floor space, is projected to double the airport’s passenger capacity to 12.5 million travellers a year.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha officially opened the new terminal to much fanfare on Sept 16 during his first official visit to Phuket. (See story here.)

The long delays to enter and leave the country via Phuket Airport come as Phuket braces for the annual return of the tourism high season, which begins next month. (See story here.)



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Kurt | 07 November 2016 - 13:59:31

Bit by bit, step by step, but in silence, more and more thai government people ( Ministers, department officials, headmasters of schools, airport authorities) visit Singapore for learning and getting updated with 21st century top of the 'possibilities/doings'.
That is a good step forward.

The Phuket News

Kurt | 06 November 2016 - 17:22:15

Minister of Transport went to Singapore to see how Airport Immigration equipment works over there.
All equipment needed by Immigration Phuket International Airport now will come from Singapore. Singapore technician will install everything at Phuket International arrival- and Departure Hall, and make it operational.
It seems thai here had no clue how to do it themselves. 
Din't even know what to buy, and of course no knowledge of installing.

I found it already strange that computers were not bought in time. Now we know.
It was a big problem, and the thai pushed the problem just ahead, ahead until 'over' the last moment.

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Rorii | 04 November 2016 - 07:07:44

Swerv, we await your reply, we'd like to know why such a stuff up.

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Christy Sweet | 02 November 2016 - 07:45:34

Swerv, Self-appointed thought police now? [snickers] I agree with Kurt and please go ahead and "report" me, you know my name- police know where I live and here is my opinion; Thai authorities are incompetent when dealing with anything that has to do with foreigners and I think it is deliberate. 

The Phuket News

Andy | 01 November 2016 - 20:41:30

I suggest you invite the immigration chief round for dinner and once through the door make he and his wife stand in line and shuffle forward a few feet every 5 minutes. After 2 hours let them have a drink. 
However, there will then be no time for your wife to discuss Ugandan affairs with the immigration chief. There might be time though to ask him for the real reason behind this shambles. 

The Phuket News

Rorii | 01 November 2016 - 17:14:08

swerv, I don't care if he's your father, my comment is still valid, perhaps you can ask your "friend" why the current stuff up, he's certainly not telling anyone else. Now, there's a challenge, though I suspect your will be like Joe12, who when challenged to put up or shut up, chooses to shut up.

The Phuket News

swerv | 01 November 2016 - 13:32:32

Rorii: The Phuket airport immigration chief is actually a personal friend of me and my wife, so yes i do know a bit about the future of Phuket airport.

The Phuket News

Andy | 01 November 2016 - 11:00:20

There is clearly more to this than is being revealed. Computers and web cams could have been carried from the old terminal. Are immigration staff still over there as well?

The Phuket News

CT Resident | 01 November 2016 - 09:17:29

Picked up my daughter arriving from Singapore around 5:30 pm last Thursday. She waited over an hour to get though Immigration. She flew back Sunday and sent me a photo of the Immigration hall. Absolute chaos again. Ed. - photo is available for your use

The Phuket News

Rorii | 01 November 2016 - 06:57:41

Michael K. Swerve can no more predict what happens at the airport, as he can pick the winning lottery numbers. You are unlikely to cancel your holiday, just accept there could be a long delay at immigration.

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