“The first solution to the long queues is that we are going to extend the shifts of our current immigration officials. For example, someone who usually finishes their shift at 9pm may have to extend their shift until 10pm so that there are always officials working.
“We are preparing to welcome many tourists during the Chinese New Year. For this period, we will hopefully transfer over 200 staff temporarily from Suvarnabhumi Airport. That is about 200 in total, for every department,” said Mr Petch.
“I am going to have a meeting with the head of airport immigration soon to organise recruiting more officers to help us,” he added.
Dr Petch explained that in addition to a shortage of immigration workforce, much of the problem was also that some flights were inconveniently timed at the same periods in the day.
“Yes, we admit that the queues can be very long, but we also ask that people look at why they are long. Often there are up to two or three flights taking off within similar time frames. So the queues become long all at once, and then it all calms down again very quickly,” explained Mr Petch.
“For this, I request a bit of time to resolve this issue. But I would like to note that passengers spend an average of only 45 seconds at the counter each,” he said.
“The speed of the immigration process is not the problem. It is actually very fast for each person.
“The arrivals queues are not so much of a problem,” he continued, despite sources revealing to The Phuket News yesterday morning that they had waited an hour and a half at the International arrival hall.
“For the convenience of people, we will also install more waiting areas and seats. We will create more space on the third floor of the International terminal where people can relax, with restaurants to eat. It’s just a matter of making the space. By June we will have more spaces and more seats,” he added.
Deputy General Manager of the airport Sumpan Kutranoon clarified that in situations where the queues are busy, airline staff will create shortcut queues for those nearing take-off to ensure they don’t miss their flights due to the queues.
“Although we ask passengers to take responsibility to check in at least 45 minutes before their flights, in the case where there is a very long queue, airline staff will create a shortcut for urgent passengers.
“If for other reasons passengers do not board the plane, staff will simply remove the bags for safety reasons, such as the potential of bombs,” he added.
Meanwhile, Phuket International Airport today (Feb 6) announced in a press release that they have requested the budget for a new electrical transformer after an electrical problem caused a shut-off at the international terminal (phase 1) yesterday (Feb 5) from 5:30pm to today at 1:30am.
The statement said, “The Phuket airport staff immediately checked after being notified that the electricity was shut off. Staff found that an electric short circuit occurred on a 1500 kVA transformer where oil was found leaking on top of the transformer.
“So this affected a power distribution system to lighting devices at the airport apron, departure terminal and arrival conveyor belt,” it said.
“Phuket AoT staff fixed the problem by providing 250kVA and 6kVA mobile lighting units for the airport apron. Supporting lighting equipment was also provided by AoT development project constructor (Sino-Thai Pub Co Ltd) to service at the conveyor belt and departure terminal. The electric distribution system was backed to normal at 1:30am today (Feb 6),” the statement explained.
“The incident did not affect the security system and runways. We found that the transformer has been used since 1989. Phuket airport will urgently request for a budget to buy a new transformer to replace the old one. We apologise for any inconvenience.”