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Phuket Airport officials forced tourists out of vans and into taxis

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Recent charges of taxi mafias, bad behavior by drivers, and brawls between taxi drivers in front of visitors have tarnished Thailand and Phuket’s reputation. Another recent instance at Phuket International Airport went viral when customers were told to take an airport taxi instead of a minivan.

Many bus stations and ferry docks have been accused of having exclusive contracts with local taxi drivers, however, in Thailand and around the world, cabs must have special licenses or licenses to access airport terminals to pick up customers. Grab and other ride-hailing applications have made this practice controversial.

A picture on Thursday showed Phuket Airport employees stopping passengers from taking an organized minivan and urging them to utilize an airport taxi. The video included an explanation.

“A minivan driver met online-booked customers at the airport. Airport staff halted the minivan at the airport exit and told online-booked passengers to hire a licensed cab.

Online commenters were upset that the tourist had to give up their pre-booked transfer. They stated that denying tourists options adds inconvenience and raises prices, damaging tourism. They suggested that passengers should be able to exit the airport via taxi, the ride-hailing app, or other ways.

Phuket International Airport released a statement indicating that someone used a ride-hailing app to organize a pickup, but the driver did not meet airport taxi requirements.

A minivan cab picked up people who booked online yesterday (September 28). Ministerial Regulations declare Phuket Airport an aircraft control area. The minivan driver broke rules. Taxis can’t enter the airport without permission. Airport taxis must register. Passengers and taxi drivers know the rules.”

Yesterday’s provincial meeting emphasized the island’s public transit choices. Phuket has 6,000 registered taxis and 378 buses. Transportation was covered at a meeting headed by Phuket Vice Governor Amnuay Pinsuwan. Thai Tourist Authority and tourism sector representatives attended the meeting.

Phuket has 11,351 public transport vehicles. 277 were metered taxis.

518 minibusses and vans, 518 tuk-tuks, 378 buses, and 6,342 “non-buses” were included. Meeting attendees emphasized the necessity of tourists using authorized taxis and vans. They promised to launch a PR effort.

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