Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thailand: Krabi airport closed, Phuket closed

UPDATE: Read this post.

UPDATE: Tue, September 2, 2009. Reports on the situation in Thailand and airport status for today are posted here.

UPDATE: The Bangkok Post reports that both Krabi and Phuket airports have re-opened.

Sunday. The closure of the Phuket and Krabi airports on account of mob protests is deplorable. The region, after all, is dependent on foreign tourist revenue. The Bangkok Post reports:

Phuket and Krabi remained closed for a third day on Sunday because anti-government protesters have seized some approach roads and endanger runway operations.

In addition, train service across the country remains halted for a fourth day, despite government attempts to convince workers back to the job.

Concerning the closure of Phuket airport, WA Today reports:

officials said the [Phuket] airport would be closed indefinitely due to ongoing anti-government protesters. Thailand's second-busiest airport was closed yesterday afternoon after 5,000 protesters set up a blockade and marched down the tarmac, forcing authorities to suspend flights to and from the island.

About 1,000 protesters from the so-called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which is also squatting on the main government compound in Bangkok, blocked access to the airport today.

The airport's director Wicha Nurnlop said the protesters had refused to negotiate with authorities on reopening the runway.

"Phuket airport is shutting down indefinitely," he told Agence France-Presse.
Foreign passengers have been greatly inconvenienced, reports AFP:

15,000 passengers stranded in Phuket since anti-government protesters marched Friday on the island's airport, the nation's second-busiest, forcing a cancellation of all the nearly 120 daily flights.

Similar protests closed down the airport in nearby Krabi and the southern commercial centre of Hat Yai, cutting off air traffic to much of southern Thailand.

A third airport, Hat Yai International, was closed on Friday but officials managed to convince protesters to back off and allow flight operations to resume on Saturday.

Concerning the last point, should you choose to go to Hat Yai airport, you are entering a region of Thailand that has experienced terrorist bombings as recently as May 2007. Which brings us to the government issued travel-advisories. AFP reports that "Australia, Britain and the United States have warned their nationals to exercise caution travelling here, while South Korea has urged tourists to postpone their plans." South Korea's advisory sounds silly to me. A tourist is not likely to get hurt in Thailand -- at least not in clashes between police and protesters -- if a tourist stays away from places where the protest mobs have gathered.

Thai PM Samak has harshly criticized security at Phuket Airport: "Spekaing during his live talk programme on NBT, Samak said the protesters were unarmed so the security officials, who have been trained to cope with terrorists, should have removed them from the airport."

Stranded passenger's tickets will be honored at least by some airlines. AirAsia says will give refunds or provide replacement flights to Phuket and Krabi-bound passengers due to the closure of the airports there. Meanwhile, some Australian Thailand-bound flights have not taken off.

To find out more about the political situation in Thailand, see these posts. If you are in Thailand and get some new information, please share what you have heard in comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.