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Tourists arriving at Phuket International Airport continue to have to wait hours to clear immigration, despite immigration officials saying they have more officers on duty during peak times.
Capt Watchawuth Kitiatsawong, a senior-ranking officer at Phuket Airport Immigration, told The Phuket News this week that enough officers have been moved to Phuket Airport to cope with the heavy peak periods, but that the key problem was that there are not enough computer terminals available to process tourist arrivals.
“If all counters were open, it would help shorten the queues, but some counters still have no computer terminals installed,” he explained.
“We have enough officials to fill all the processing stations once they do open, but at this time we can only do our best to get the lines moving,” he added.
The inbound immigration desks are overloaded when more than one flight lands at the same time, Capt Watchawuth said.
“The queues to clear immigration are normal (sic) most of the time. The queues only get longer than normal if we get large numbers of passengers arriving at the same time from double flights,” he said.
“During this time we have more staff at the available counters to help out to get the line moving as quickly as possible,” he added.
“Normally we get about 300 passengers per flight, and this takes us only half an hour to clear them. The heavy load periods though are from midnight to 4am, when flights come from China and Russia, so we add more staff during this hours,” Capt Watchawuth reiterated.
The current wait to clear immigration during peak periods is about 2½ hours, travellers have consistently reported to The Phuket News.
“First time back in a year. What a ridiculous situation!” reported one visitor from the UK who landed at the airport early last Saturday (Dec 3) to rest in Phuket in recovery after surgery.