Bizjet Ban Worries Thai Operators

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Bizjets are back at the popular resort area of Phuket, Thailand, after a 16-day ban to accommodate airline traffic over the holiday period. But even though the ban has been lifted, operators in the area say private aircraft are the lowest priority for slots and the difficulty getting into the airport is driving well-heeled visitors elsewhere. "These private jet flyers have tight schedules, and if there is so much trouble getting the needed time slots at Phuket, they'll most likely go somewhere else," Jaiyavat Navaraj, a spokesman for the Hong Kong-based Asian Business Aviation Association, told the Bangkok Post. Access to the airport is determined by the slot coordinator, a committee with reps from the Thai Civil Aviation Authority, Airports of Bangkok -- and Thai Airways.

The newspaper said airline traffic increased tenfold over the holidays, with up to 190 flights a day. Compounding the crowding was an expansion project designed to alleviate such issues in the future but which has three gates and other facilities out of commission for now. The local FBO told the newspaper at least 50 private aircraft were affected by the holiday ban.