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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lao Airlines cancels flights to Bangkok

Lao Airlines yesterday cancelled four flights bound for Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi) after the airport was partially closed when anti-government protestors disrupted airport services.

Lao Airlines Marketing Director, Mr Rada Sounthone, told Vientiane Times the airline had cancelled two flights out of Vientiane and one each from Savannakhet and Luang Prabang airports until further notice.

He was unable to say when flights would resume as this depended on when services at Suvarnabhumi Airport could be restored to normal.

“We also have more than 300 inbound passengers waiting to board flights to Laos at Suvarnabhumi Airport ,” he said.

He said Lao Airlines would refund passengers' money if they decided to travel overland to Thailand instead. Alternatively they could fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang and from there to Chiang Mai , Thailand .

If the flight on an alternative route costs more than a ticket on the Vientiane-Bangkok sector, passengers must pay the difference. But if the alternative route is cheaper, Lao Airlines will refund the difference.

“All of our flights are fully booked right now because it is peak tourist season,” Mr Rada said.

According to Thailand 's The Nation newspaper, Airports of Thailand (AOT) decided to close Suvarnabhumi Airport after People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters blocked an entrance, entered passenger terminals and scuffled with airport officials.

The closure, ordered about 9pm on Tuesday, involved stopping outbound flights. Inbound planes were still being allowed to land on Tuesday night, but could be diverted to key provincial airports if the situation deteriorated.

“The PAD members are now scattered around. I don't know who's who, or who's PAD and who's not,” a senior AOT official, Mr Serirat Prasutanont, told The Nation about 10:30pm on Tuesday.

It is not known how long the closure will last. According to Mr Serirat, the airport had scheduled 44 inbound flights and 40 departures between 11:30pm on Tuesday and 7am on Wednesday.

Thai Airways International (THAI) reported more than 21 flights - to Japan, India, Iran and Europe and other destinations - were cancelled on Tuesday night, affecting up to 6,000 travellers. Up to 10,000 travellers could have been affected on Tuesday night alone, according to airline sources.

The PAD threatened earlier on Tuesday night to close down Suvanabhumi Airport completely after several thousand PAD protesters blocked an entrance earlier in the day and caused turmoil for numerous passengers.

By Panyasith Thammavongsa
(Latest Update November 27, 2008)

1 comment:

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