Good news for travelers in and out of Thailand. The wheels are in motion (quite literally) to get the country’s tourism sector back on its feet again. After the official end of PAD’s airport blockade, Thai airport officials moved quicky to get some flights in and out of Bangkok.
A Thai Aiways plane, the first international flight out of Survarnabhumi at 6.45pm (Thailand time) Wednesday evening made a small piece of history by taking the first 388 stranded passengers home.
First International Flight Leaves Bangkok Airport
By checking in passengers at a nearby convention centre because Survarnabhumi airport check-in desks were not yet operational, the first international flight out (a Thai Airways plane to Sydney) was able to depart earlier than Thai airport authorities had initially projected, after the end of the siege was announced on Tuesday.
More Thai Airways Flights Resume at Suvarnabhumi
Five Thai Airways International flights also left Suvarnabhumi airport late Wednesday and early Thursday December 4th, to Seoul, New Delhi, Narita, Copenhagen and Frankfurt. Currently the airport is only partially operational.
First Incoming Flight Touches Down
The first incoming domestic flight landed on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after PAD protestors had vacated the airport. The Thai Airways flight TG2109 from Phuket to Bangkok touched down at 14.15 Thailand time, carrying 305 relieved passengers who had been stuck on the internationally reknowned tourist island of Phuket. According to the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, “First flights leave Thailand,” of December 3rd, passengers had to disembark a short distance away from the main terminal building because the landing bridges and luggage systems were not yet functioning properly.
The second plane to touch down was a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight from Amman, carrying 60 passengers.
Flights from Don Mueang Airport
Bangkok’s Don Mueang, in the north of the city is also due to reopen sometime on Thursday December 4th, once check-in counters and immigration points are operational, including the budget airline Nok Air. This airport was formally Thailand’s main international airport until the opening of Suvarnabhumi in 2006.
Alternative Thai Airports
Prior to the end of the blockade, the small military airport U-tapapo, just outside Pattaya, was being used to fly as many stranded travelers out as possible. The privatley-owned Bangkok Airways also announced the addition of extra flights at Hua Hin airport, from December 1st, to connect with its onward flights from Koh Samui to Singapore and Hong Kong. Phuket International Airport remained operational throughout the Bangkok airport blockade.
The Cost to the Country of Thai Airport Blockade
Thailand will now be counting the costs of the airport blockade, both economically and in terms of tconfidence.The Telegraph quotes PAD supporter Weeranan Au (aged 28) a bar owner from Pattaya as saying “A lot of (my) customers want to go home, but they are not Thai, they do not understand what happens in Thailand. We did this because we have no choice.” PAD’s anti-government protestors who blockade Bangkok’s airports see themselves as guardians of the country and its monarchy, from allegedly corrupt politicians.