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Skål Chiang Mai and North Thailand goes Italian

Phuket Air expects 500 million baht revenue loss

Lion City artists on parade

Skål Chiang Mai and North Thailand goes Italian

Sandy Clark

Skål! (From left) Somrit (Paul) Haikum, president Chiangmai Guide Association; Anachalee Kalmapijit, operation manager Mae Sa Elephant Camp; Alinda Chotinarumol, Wanna Thomas from Wanna Tours, Wanassanan Krainara, operation director Wind and Fire and Wanida Jamieson, Diethelm Travel Chiang Rai.

With the previous Skål meeting being the half-year assembly of the young Skål Club of Chiang Mai and North Thailand, the August meeting was decreed to be a ‘down to earth’ dinner meeting. However, the turnout again exceeded the expectations, and the attendance was testament to the popularity of Skål events.

Networking (from left) Yutakit Wanichanond, Wind and Fire; Duncan Jamieson, Mom Tri’s; Lars Magnusson, e-turbo news; Marc Dumur, GM The Legend Chiang Rai River Resort and Spa, Skål life member Ken Hill and Shane Beary from Track of the Tiger Tours.

The Skålleagues and their guests met at Buonissimo, Sergio Canale’s Italian Restaurant of who provided the best what Italy has to offer, including a variety of wines.

The evening started with some networking in the garden, with the spirit of friendship and unity which makes Skål so special. Skålleagues are professionals who identify with the Skål values.

Ken Hill, a Life member said he feels overwhelmed with the warmth and friendship radiating from this northern club. During his short speech before dinner he reminded the members that Skål is not a business association but it does encourage Skålleagues to do business with each other.

The next dinner meeting for Skål International Chiangmai and North Thailand will take place on Thursday, September 29, at Jirung Resort Mae Rim, at 7 p.m.

Phuket Air expects 500 million baht revenue loss

Three weekly flights from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani?

eTTR Daily Photo: M. Vogt

Phuket Air is seeking help from Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation to clear up accusations made by France’s aviation authority that the airline is unsafe.

Phuket Air expects losses of 500 million baht in revenue this year on top of the 300 million baht lost last year that will force the airline to make 300 employees redundant.

Fuel costs and rapid expansion at the wrong time were blamed as major causes, while Phuket Air executive vice-president Capt Chawanit Chiamcharoenvut is seeking help from Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation to clear up accusations made by France’s aviation authority that the airline is unsafe.

Usually aircraft safety is handled by the country where the aircraft is registered and the airline is challenging the break with that precedent claiming it could be politically motivated.

Surging fuel costs were the main burden rising to the point where the airline claims it represents 30 percent to 40 percent of operational costs. Meanwhile, the airline is still saddled with high fixed costs such as aircraft lease, office rental and staff salaries.

The first cost cutting measure involves making 300 employees redundant a task that has taken three months to clear. The airline closed offices in Phuket, Hat Yai and Krabi, while reducing office space at Bangkok International Airport. It focused on direct sales through the Internet, but that move has failed to deliver more passengers.

In addition, the airline recently increased its fuel surcharge to 610 baht per roundtrip on domestic routes and 1,040 baht on international routes to cover increases.

“As a result, we reduced our operational costs to 20 million baht per month,” said Capt Chawanit. He admitted that rapid expansion to the UK and Netherlands since last year and the tsunami that hit the country’s tourism ended all hope of breaking even and has resulted in even heavier losses than those reported in 2004.

Meanwhile, reacting on the accusation from the French aviation authorities, Phuket Air delivered a letter to the Department of Civil Aviation asking the authority to help seek clarification on the announcement that identifies six international carriers that cannot fly to France. Phuket Air was the only airline from Asia on the list.

Capt Chawanit said the airline has obtained a safety certification from the Thai DCA and has been operating without any technical problems since last April after it resolved safety issues with the UK and Netherlands. Now the French aviation authorities have suspended the airline, a move Capt. Chawanit claims is unfair.

The airline is currently operating three domestic routes, from Bangkok to Buri Ram, Mae Sod and Ranong plus one regional route from Bangkok to Yangon.

Capt Chawanit said the airline plans during this high season to increase its flights to Mae Sod from five services weekly to seven, and to Ranong from seven to nine weekly. Phuket Air is also considering three weekly flights from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani in October.

Meanwhile, on the Bangkok-Yangon route, the airline will increase its two weekly services to four.

Lion City artists on parade

The National Arts Council has launched a new visual arts platform, the Singapore Art Show, to showcase the work of its local artists.

An objet d’art at the cultural center ‘The Esplanade’ with faces which are made by just walking over a bed sheet. (Photo M. Vogt)

Starting September 23, the month-long display will be the largest local arts show to date, featuring 200 artists with 400 art works. In all there will be 22 exhibitions held in various locations across the city.

CEO Lee Suan Hiang said, “The Singapore Art Show 2005 represents the development of the visual art community in Singapore as we become a global city for the arts.”

The Singapore Art Show 2005 will feature a range of art from the traditional to contemporary, and aims to attract about half a million visitors. (TTG Asia)