Anti-government protesters have occupied Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, resulting in the suspension of flights from city’s former main airport until the evening of November 27, effectively isolating the Thai capital from international air traffic.
Following the enforced closure of the newer Suvarnabhumi International Airport earlier this week, many international flights were diverted to Don Mueang, which had operated as a secondary airport serving mainly domestic routes after Suvarnabhumi opened in September 2006.
THAI Airways International cancelled 152 domestic and international flights yestersday and diverted 24 international arrivals, 20 to Don Muaeng International Airport, three to U-Tapao airport near Pattaya and one to Chiang Mai International Airport in the north of the country.
THAI has provided accommodation for passengers who were unable to travel from Bangkok to 15 hotels including, The Emerald, Indra Regent, Rama Garden, Ambassador, Amari Airport, Radisson, Amari Atrium, Fortune, Amari Boulevard.
Evan Lewis, vice-president – communications Asia Pacific for Accor said: “Novotel Suvarnabhumi at Bangkok International Airport is running almost full as passengers have found themselves stranded at the airport due to the closure. As with most airport hotels, guest arrivals and departures are a constant, as the hotel finds itself full it is transferring guests to the Novotel Banga Bangkok – the next closest Accor hotel to airport. The hotel as with all Accor hotels in Thailand was well prepared and has increased security in and around the hotel and stockpiled necessary provisions and supplies to trade in the event of an incident. The hotel operations are running well,” he said.
“Any Accor guests that have prepaid their Bangkok accommodation through Accor channels are entitled to refunds. Any passengers that feel that they are entitled to any compensation should make contact with their airline.”
Carolyn Leung, corporate communications manager, public affairs, at Cathay Pacific, pointed out that the airline was not obliged “to provide hotel accommodation because only very few passengers showed up at either Bangkok or Hongkong airport because the airline has issued an early advisory about cancelled flights and asked passengers to check with the airline before leaving for the airport. But, in a case where a passenger was already checked in and the flight was cancelled, the airline will provide hotel accommodation upon the passenger’s request.”
THAI airways have published two helpline numbers for passengers in Thailand: 0-2356-1111 or 0-2545-4000, the airline also promises updates on its website www.thaiairways.com
The airport closures have also disrupted other airlines using Bangkok as a regional hub for their long haul flights.
Emirates has had to cancel and reroute several of its onward flights to Hongkong and Australia and has established a passenger hotline +971-4-2144444.
Tourism accounts for an estimated US$16 billion in revenue annually, about 6.5 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product.
In 2007, Suvarnabhumi handled 40 million passengers making it the 18th busiest airport in the world.