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Phuket officials urge airlines not to price gouge on fares

Flickr/Ferry Octavian

Officials in Phuket are calling on airlines to be fair, not greedy, in their pricing, lest they discourage would-be tourists from holidaying on the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the call was made by Phuket’s Provincial Public-Private Joint Economic Development Committee. The committee says it’s had to intervene after complaints from tourists who feel they’re being overcharged for flights.

The Committee doesn’t actually have any authority to do anything about the increase in airfares, other than raise awareness and make official complaints to the airlines.

Phuket Vice Governor Amnuay Pinsuwan, who jointly chairs the committee, says airfare control measures devised by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand divide flight routes into 2 types due to benchmark fares. Phuket is categorised as having a rate limitation for full-service charging and low-cost carrier charging, according to the report.

The notice issued by the CAAT mandates that full-service operators cannot charge passengers more than 13 baht per kilometre for fares that include a baggage allowance of 20 kilogrammes or less. The fare must also include in-flight food and drinks. Low-cost carriers cannot charge passengers more than 9.40 baht per kilometre.

Amnuay points out that the CAAT measures mean that flights to Phuket cannot be charged at more than 9,074 baht per flight in the case of a full-service carrier and 6,561 on flights operated by low-cost airlines.

Phuket to Bangkok is an approximate 700 kilometre journey by air.

Some of these current airfares have breached these ceilings imposed by the CAAT, but usually include a lot of taxes, which raises the cost of the tickets.

He says overpriced fares over the New Year holiday and Valentine’s Day were due to high demand and prices are expected to rise again for Makha Bucha Day and Songkran. All airlines are required to publish a fare rates report every month and every trimester, according to the CAAT, who have issued a notice on pricing to carriers.

Amnuay warns that the bosses of any airline indulging in price gouging could face a jail term of at least 6 months and/or a fine of up to 20,000 baht.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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