Showdown at Bangkok Airport – November 2008

Anti government protesters sit in front of the departure terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport on Wednesday Nov. 26, 2008. The protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.( AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

This is the story – in real time – of the 2008 airport closures by domestic terrorists in Thailand. Not one person has ever been prosecuted for the damage done both physically, to the nation’s image and to the airlines and passengers.

It is time to end this running news report from Bangkok. It is also time that I try to make my way back to Dubai – a coach from Bangkok to Phuket; Air Asia from Phuket to the LCC terminal in Kuala Lumpur; a day stay in a hotel and the overnight Emirates flight back to Dubai. 

News Timeline

3 December 2008

Hotel watch: Some 5 star hotels are reporting occupancy levels in single digits – less than 10%. And this is the beginning of the high season. There will be no high season this year.

New Mandala: After the respectful lull for the king’s birthday, the People’s Alliance for Democracy will be back with new targets and provocations. But their yellow ranks may be thinner. Their international and national reputation is in tatters. Released from the cult-like hot-house atmosphere of Government House and Suvarnabhumi a good number of the “aunties with clappers” may decide that dabbling in terrorism is not for them.

Peua Thai plans: Puea Thai Party, seen as a spare of disbanded People Power Party, is scheduled on Sunday to elect its leader and 29-member executive board.
The naming of the party leader is seen as the crucial step for the nomination of the next prime minister to be voted in the House, tentatively scheduled for Monday.

On Wednesday, about 80 of 218 MPs from the disbanded ruling party have already completed the process to switch to the Puea Thai banner.

Deputy House Speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai, seen as a contender for premiership, is now a full-fledged Puea Thai member.

Emerged from the registration of his party membership, he said he viewed Industry Minister Mingkwan Saengsuwan as a more suitable candidate for the position of prime minister.

Funny!!: AOT company acting president Serirat Prasutanond insisted that on the day that protesters took control of the airport, AOT had done its best to protect the airport. All security officers and police officers did their best, under the guideline that there must be no clash.

Did their best. Who is he kidding. They ran to the nearest exit.

Abhisit speaks: He has been quiet – his party useless – and no with remarkable and depressing opportunism Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday urged for House dissolution on the ground that a snap election will allow a fresh start to form a viable government to tackle the political and economic woes.

Abhisit said he wanted the transition to the next government to take place under prescribed rules sanctioned by the Constitution.

Airport update: Airports of Thailand Plc expects to reopen Suvarnabhumi Airport in 1 week at the earliest and 2 weeks at the latest, said the company’s acting president Serirat Prasutanond. He said on Wednesday that the airport could be reopened for full operations only after complete inspection for irregularities, explosives, and readiness of equipment and systems.


Politician for life: Banharn Silapa-archa, leader of the dissolved Chart Thai Party, vows to return to politics in five years, as soon as his ban comes to an end. He will be 81 by then.

Reality check: This is likely to be only a lull in the storm ahead, as members of the ruling parties are likely to re-form under a new coalition still loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra.

Bangkok Post: The notion of Thailand as the “Land of Smiles” is becoming obsolete. It is fast turning itself into a land of misery and strife.


Quote from the Atlantic magazine: Some in the U.S. media have labeled Barack Obama the first celebrity politician. But those commentators have never been to a Thaksin rally. His face beams from bumper stickers cut in the shape of a Valentine’s heart. There are posters of him riding an everyman’s bicycle, sitting on a public beach, and strolling through the train station, apparently about to board. People don’t just support their political leaders here – they seem to love them like family.

2 December 2008

Kings’ speech: Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej made no mention of the country’s deepening political crisis during a short speech at a Trooping the Color military parade in Bangkok.

Although the annual speech normally focuses on the need for military probity, the king used the occasion last year to issue a call for unity ahead of a general election in December.

Perhaps no one has told him what is happening.

Caretaker PM: No-1 Deputy Prime Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul will become caretaker prime minister pending a meeting of the caretaker Cabinet, former PM’s Office Ministers Sukhumpong Ngonkham said Tuesday.

PAD wants all cabinet to go: Following the verdict on party disbandment, Somsak said the PAD would not allow the Cabinet to work in the caretaker capacity until the formation of the next government. He said every minister must depart along with Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.Of 36 Cabinet members, 22 are not affected by the party abolition.

ASEAN Meet cancelled: Thailand on Tuesday postponed the Asean summit scheduled to be held in Chaing Mai mid of this month due to the country’s current political unrest.

Court watch: Hundreds of pro-government crowds have started to arrive and rally at the Supreme Administrative Court, Chaeng Wattana Road, switching their rallying site from the Constitution Court.

In summary three of the parties that make up the ruling coalition could face dissolution if the country’s constitutional court finds them guilty of vote-buying in the run-up to last year’s elections. If, as many analysts expect, the court rules against the People Power party, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya, they would be forced to stop operating and their senior officials, including Somchai Wongsawat, prime minister, would be banned from electoral office for five years.

It is unclear why the Democrats are not facing similar charges. Vote buying is endemic in Thai elections.

The draconian Party Dissolution Act was included in a constitution brought in by the military in 2007 after they threw out the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra – Mr Somchai’s brother-in-law – who was found guilty of corruption and abuse of power.

Few people are certain what would happen if the three parties were dissolved. Some believe the rump of the government could form a new administration while others believe that the court should appoint an interim government pending new elections.

Attack at Don Muang: An assailant fired a grenade into the inbound passenger terminal building of the Don Mueang Airport early Tuesday, killing one protester and injuring 22 others.

The arrogance of the PAD: “Rural people have good hearts but they don’t know the truth like we do in Bangkok,” said Noppakoon Lagum, 37, a surgeon helping to occupy the main international airport. “It is our duty to re-educate them.”

And that dear reader is this showdown in one sentence.

1 December 2008

U Tapao mess – Some 20,000 people turned up on Saturday with just 4,000 seats available, a Thai Airways spokesman said.

Reality check: The general manager of Suvarnabhumi said it could take a week to resume operations when the protesters finally leave, because security and computer systems had been compromised.

“Normally, checking the IT systems takes one week,” Serirat Prasutanond told Reuters, adding the delay would be even longer if any of the airport’s systems needed repair.

I have a way out – but it wont be fun.

4 December: 7.30am bus to Phuket – about 13 hours. And then to hotel.
6 December: Fly from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur
7 December: Fly from KL to Dubai.


Thai rescue flights: Thai Airways International Public Company Limited announces check in counters at BITEC Bang-Na Exhibition Center for THAI passengers who already received flight confirmation from THAI reservations will be opened 24 hours.

Passengers must check in at the lobby area, 1st Floor, EH106 Building, at BITEC Bang-Na Exhibition Center, starting from 1st December, 24 hours.

Passengers must check in at least seven (7) hours before flight departure.

THAI will check in for passengers and provide transfer from BITEC Bang-Na to U-Tapao Airport in Rayong.For further information on THAI’s flights and reservations, passengers may contact tel. 02-356-1111. For other information, passengers may contact tel. 02-545-4000 or visit

30 November 2008

Sondhi – he so badly wants a confrontation: “If we have to die today, I am willing to die,” said fellow PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul in a speech broadcast by his ASTV station.

Another looming protest: The Constitution Court is in danger of being surrounded by red-shirt pro-government protesters and nobody knows what is going to happen if the court on Tuesday decides to disband three ruling parties.

In good company: The Telegraph newspaper website,, has named Thailand as one of the world’s most dangerous countries, alongside Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, South Africa, Jamaica, Sudan, Colombia, Haiti, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Pakistan, Burundi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India, Mexico, Isarel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Lebanon.

Mutual sit ins: The United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) planned to gather in Sanam Luang until the People’s Alliance for the Democracy (PAD) protesters leave Suvarnabhumi airport.

Breaking news from the Nation – and a great typo – don’t they check anything anymore:
“Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat said the government would spend at least Bt1 billion to compensate tourist left stranded because of the besieging the two Bangkok airports.

Sompong was Sunday quoted by Manage Online as saying that each of tourists would receive Bt2 billion a day from the special fund until they could fly home.

Thais, who have been stranded overseas, will receive the same rate of compensations, he said.

He was quoted as saying that he had informed foreign envoys of the compensations.”

How effective are the Thai police – this is so sad that it is funny: From the Bangkok Post – Anti-government protesters occupying Bangkok’s international airport forced police into a hasty retreat Saturday after officers tried to stop more demonstrators from joining the thousands whose siege has brought air traffic in the capital to a halt.

The 100 or so officers left behind nine police vans. Protesters promptly let the air out of the tires.

To be honest there must be many in the Thai police and armed forces that are simply seething at their current humiliation. The Thai government has demanded moderation. The PAD are making a mockery of that moderation. The PAD keep increasing their provocation. They appear to want death and injury to turn public sentiment against the government.

Getting out of Thailand: A few special flights departed yesterday from the naval air-base at U-Tapao, 90 miles southeast of Bangkok. But there was chaos as 3,000 people waited to use its two x-ray machines and four check-in counters. There are no baggage handling facilities; the airport cannot cope.

Most tourists have stayed in their hotels; some have opted to try a variety of adventurous exit routes. Some took trains to the northern border with Laos, crossing the Mekong river to Vientiane, which has a handful of flights out every day. Heading east, others took buses to the Cambodian border and on to Phnom Penh, which has an international airport….mainly with flights back to Bangkok!

Most went south by coach to Malaysia although tourists have been warned not to risk travel through Thailand’s southeast, where a Muslim separatist campaign has claimed 3,000 lives since 2004.

A few travellers took speed-boats and ferries from the west coast 25 miles across the Andaman Sea to the Malaysian holiday island of Langkawi, which has an airport.

PAD: Chamlong Srimuang, a co-leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, announced Sunday morning that the PAD would not pull out from the two Bangkok airports.

Is the December 2 date linked to the fact that the Constitutional Court has moved up the party dissolution cases involving three government coalition parties for final verdicts on December 2.

He told the crowd at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport that the people would get a victor on December 2.

Bombs in BKK in the night: 45 injured in explosion inside Government House – 4 in serious condition, 3 more explosions heard at ASTV station and Don Mueang Airport

29 November 2008

Action Men: Acting national police chief assigned a deputy police commissioner-general to hold an urgent meeting of top police officers Saturday to discuss the situation of the besieging of Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang Airport.

They probably met on the golf course! And agreed to do nothing !

Refugees: The scenes at U-Tapao airport look like refugees. The airport cannot cope with the flights that are being sent there – and cannot cope with the immigration, and even basic sanitary needs of the hundreds of passengers trying to catch emergency flights home. The pictures are from late last night.

FCCT emergency: things must be bad in BKK as the FCCT has made its own emergency decree: “In response to the extraordinary current political situation, and as a service to all members, the FCCT will be open this Sunday, 30 November, from noon.

Members and their guests will be able to watch news reports and use the club’s WiFi system, and are requested to make a point of tipping staff more generously than usual when they settle their bills.”

Police fail: Guards of the People’s Alliance for Democracy detained a police senior sergeant major Saturday morning.

Pol Senior Sgt Maj Sompop Nathee, an officer from the Border Patrol Police Region 1 was arrested when he rode a motorcycle to a scene where police crashed with protesters at a police checkpoint on Kingkaew Road.

Sompop was taken to be questioned by Samran Rodphet, a leader of the PAD.

Red shirts: Veera Musigapong, a host of Truth Today TV programme, said a mass rally of the “red-shirted people” will be held at Sanam Luang Sunday.

He said the rally in support of the government will begin at 4 pm.

He said former prime minister thaksin Shinawatra will not make a phone call to address the demonstrators and the demonstrators will not move to clash with anti-government protester at the Suvarnabhumi Airport.

PAD Reinforcements: Chamlong Srimuang, a co-leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, woke up protesters inside the government House complex at 6 am Saturday, telling them to get ready to travel to the Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

The protesters were told to board buses at the Nang Lerng Racecourse at 7 am.

The were told to bring along foods and drinking water.

The cost of inaction: National police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan was demoted yesterday, apparently for failing to execute the government’s order to clear Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

28 November 2008

Red shirt threat: he government should quickly end the occupation of Bangkok’s two airports, otherwise red-shirt crowds will take the law into their own hands to deal with the yellow-shirt protesters, organisers of the “Truth Today” talk show said.

Views: Left-leaning Thai academic Giles Ungpakorn, in an op-ed posted on the Prachathai website on Wednesday, argues that the military conspired with the PAD. “How did the PAD thugs manage to seize Bangkok International airport? Airports are supposed to be high-security areas and Thai airports are controlled by the Thai military,” he wrote. “It is obvious that the Thai military, who staged an illegal coup in 2006, have quietly supported the actions of the PAD. It is obvious that the military is unwilling to provide basic security to air travelers and air crew.”

Says another political analyst, who requested anonymity: “The military is playing Jekyll and Hyde – stirring the antagonism on one face, and positioning itself to play savior on the other. It’s classic Thai ‘third-hand’ manipulation.”

Police: Many police now at BKK airport. But no attempt to clear the terminals – yet. Surely it will happen tonight. Once the protestors are out, it’s going to take a while to do a full security sweep and get everything back up and running – particularly with modern security rules (no liquids past security, etc).

Police chief fired. Guess not doing anything was (for once) not the right action.

Somchai remains in Chiang Mai – safe among his own supporters – rather than dealing with the rather pressing issues in BKK.

Some airline have operated a flight into U-Tapao – the naval air force base (build by the Americans in the Vietnam War). Cathay Pacific flew one flight to HKG and Emirates has one flight late tonight to Dubai. Korean Air has also been seen at the airport.

27 November 2008

Thai Airways International, the national flag carrier, has prepared a contingency plan to use U-Tapao airport in Chon Buri province as its temporary base if there is an extended closure of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports – U-Tapao is a military airport south of Pattaya – with limited road access. It would be easy to block access. Thai Airway’s suggestion is unlikely to be anything more than wishful thinking.

The situation in the capital was extremely tense tonight as coup rumours prompted reaction from anti-government protesters and their rivals. Both camps mobilised their supporters for street fighting, while government and business offices suggested their staff get out early.

One seasoned journalist summed it up nicely: “Covering this crisis is like trying to explain the unexplainable, without mentioning the unmentionable.”

And all Thai commentators know what the unmentionable is!

9.00pm. PM Somchai declares state of emergency at the two BKK airports.

But will the army respond?

If the PAD wont leave peacefully then the only way to remove the mob is to show overwhelming force, and to do it swiftly and be willing to accept significant violence. There could be an announcement to clear the airport immediately or be prepared to be removed. After adequate time to clear the area then use all necessary force. Ugly, but the government would have significant domestic and international sympathy for their action.

Thailand is considering delaying Asean Summit scheduled for next month following the political turmoil which saw anti-government protesters seized Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat said Thursday.

Govt set to declare state of emergency on the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports.

Rumours were rife on Thursday about a secret Anupong ultimatum that Somchai must dissolve the House before midnight Thursday or face a coup.

Anti-government protesters in Thailand have forced the closure of the second airport in Bangkok, Don Mueang.

The airport was closed after opposition supporters blocked the terminal, in an apparent attempt to stop officials flying to meet PM Somchai Wongsawat.

Mr Somchai is in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, because he was unable to land in Bangkok after a trip to Peru.

26 November 2008

Anti-government protesters at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok, Thailand

The Democrats: The Democrats have been a disgrace throughout this whole affair. Here is a party that should be the natural opposition to the PPP in government and that should celebrate the importance of the democratic process. Instead, like Nero, they sit on the sidelines while the city burns. ANd now with wondour opportunism the Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva offered himself as a mediator to broker peace talks between the government and the People’s Alliance for Democracy….He said he feared for the worst if Somchai failed to take prompt action by continuing to ignore the demand for his resignation. Remember if there were a snap election the PPP would likely defeat the Democrats again. Unless somehow the electoral process is amended to favour the Democrats in an election.

The Prime Minister: Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat condemned anti-government protesters on Wednesday, saying their protests and seizure of the temporary government seat and Suvarnabhumi airport have tremendously damaged the country….Insisting that his government has been elected by the people, he said his government will continue working for the sake of the country. Somchai said he will chair a special cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss ways and means to bring peace back to the country,

The courts: The Civil Court Wednesday night issued an injunction, ordering the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its supporters to leave the Suvarnabhumi International Airport immediately.

The court agreed with request of the AOT Plc, which filed a suit earlier in the day to seek an urgent injunction against the protesters.

Not a chance of the PAD leaving the airport without either being forced out or the government’s collapse.

The Times: “Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport was today a scene of abandoned chaos….the sweeping approach roads to the airport were blocked with coiled razor wire and miles of parked firetrucks and cars.

Eye witness reports: “I got here at 10.45 last night from Phuket,” he said. “They’ve kept us waiting since then, they didn’t tell us anything. There was no food this morning. Last night there was a little bit going around, but it was totally unorganised.”

Other reports talk about utter confusion and travellers have received no clear information. Some people have now been evacuated, but tourists reported chaotic scenes as buses arrived to take them away from the airport.


PAD Website states: “Armed with only the plastic hand clappers, the PAD protesters have marched to various key locations including Parliament, Finance Ministry, the Metropolitan Police Bureau and the Government’s temporary seat at Don Muang Airport. However, to no avail, the proxy Government has failed to show any sign of remorse or any intention to step down as demanded by the PAD. In addition, it continues to cling on to power and is determined to amend the charter for the interests of its puppet master and his associates.”

So the wooden and metal bars and other weapons being carried are handclappers in disguise. Ridiculous. People at the airport are frightened, tired and angry. That is not a group of happy people with handclappers. It is a volatile and threatening mob.

Army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda – the head of Thailand’s powerful army has called for the government to dissolve parliament and call new elections. The PAD will now claim his suppport.

PAD takes over the airport

26 November 2008

The PAD has completely taken control of Suvarnabhumi Airport so any airline that wants to take off or land must seek permission from us directly,” said Chaiwat Sinswuwong, one of the leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

Truly bizarre. Who does the airline call? And the phone number ?

A spokesman of the People’s Alliance for Democracy also announced today that the protesters would occupy and shut down the Suvanarbhumi International Airport until Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resigns. This could be a very long occupation until force is used to remove the protestors.

An airport official said the Flight IR809 of the Iran Airlines would leave the Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 11:10 am Wednesday to fly 416 Thai Muslims to Teheran. Earlier the day, a PAD leader announced at the rally site at the airport that the flight would take off at 9:20 am to fly the pilgrims to Teheran before flying to Saudi Arabia

Why was the airport unprotected?

26 November 2008

It can hardly have been a surprise when the PAD mob occupied Bangkok’s new international airport. Thousands of PAD protestors in yellow shirts, and many carrying weapons had to be bussed to the main access road to the airport and then march towards the terminal building down the two kilometre highway into the airport.

It is only two months ago the the PAD occupied runways at Phuket and Hat Yai forcing those airports to close.

But yesterday the police were outnumbered and offered the traveling public and airport staff no protection.

It is hard to imagine any other major international airport that could be shut down by a mob of protestors or allowed to be shut down.

The reality of the situation is that many people will have been intimidated, scared and many more badly let down by the inept responses of the airport and the authorities.

Passengers trying to access the terminal last night had to drag their bags through a gauntlet of screaming, clapper waving, PAD supporters. There are reports this morning of three explosions at the airport. The situation is out of control. The public deserved protection and security. They got none.

Overnight thousands of passengers slept at the airport, many complaining airport and airline staff had disappeared when the PAD demonstrators, dressed in their movement’s yellow shirts, invaded the airport late on Tuesday.

Many passengers had checked in for their flights and were at the departure gates when their flights were cancelled. Having cleared immigration they are now marooned in an airport that the authorities have lost control of. The mob have now accessed secure parts of the airport and taken control.

Suvarnabhumi is one of Asia’s busiest airports and gateway for nearly 15 million visitors to Thailand each year. But police did nothing to prevent the occupation by the protesters eye witnesses say that barely any officers are visible early on Wednesday.

Passengers say they have no information on what is happening. Television screens have been turned off. Air conditioning turned off in parts of the airport and the mob roam wherever they wish at the airport.

Airlines such as Emirates are badly affected. Emirates has ten arrivals and departures a day at Bangkok bringing over 4,000 passengers a day. Two flights were diverted last night. 385 returned to Hong Kong and is still there; 419 diverted to Kuala Lumpur and continued to Dubai from there. Bangkok bound passengers will be taken from Kuala Lumpur by other flights when the airport opens.

The 385 crew will be inconvenienced. The flight is operated as a turnaround from BKK to Hong Kong and back to BKK. The crew have cabin bags only. All their clothes and personal effects are in Bangkok; the crew are now stuck in Hong Kong until order is restored. There will be many such stories.

So how did this happen; why was the airport not protected. Why were the mob allowed to take over the airport and access secure areas. How much damage has been done at the airport?

The government looks incapable of any action. The military don’t know which side of the fence to fall on. In trying to avoid confrontation the authorities may have positioned themselves for a much more serious battle.

This morning the PAD is saying that it will occupy the airport until Somchai and his government resigns. He will not resign. A state of emergency is more likely.

Thailand sinks into hopeless anarchy

25 November 2008

The PAD took their biggest gamble today as their mob marched in Bangkok’s international airport and forced their way into the terminal building leading to a complete shutdown of the airport at about 9pm.

The day started with violence in the northern part of the capital on the main Vibhavadee Rangsit Road, when supporters of the pro-government United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) threw stones at a truck carrying PAD members heading from the temporary parliament building at the old Don Muang airport.

From their truck, the PAD members then fired slingshots and at least two pistols at the UDD members. The PAD truck apparently turned to pursue the several dozen UDD supporters, firing at them. Two of the fleeing UDD members were shot in the incident.

The PAD truck was apparently on the way to join PAD protesters who gathered in front of the Armed Forces headquarters on Chaeng Wattana Road on Tuesday They aim to prevent a cabinet meeting rumoured to be scheduled for the building on Wednesday.

The entrance and exit gates of the command headquarters were closed.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat is on his way back from the Apec summit in Peru. He will have to find new office space again; the PAD have seized his offices in both Government House and at Don Muang. The government is basically being stopped from holding any sort of physical meeting.

There is no sign that the government will resign. It may be non-functional but there is no sign (yet) that the protests will force it to step down as the PAD has called for.

PAD protesters also clashed this evening with a group of pro-government taxi drivers on Vibhavadi Road, which left at least 11 injured. Two of the taxi drivers suffered gunshot wounds.

According to the police, the PAD demonstrators attempted to break into the Khon Rak Taxi (Taxi Lovers) radio station on Vibhavadi Road, Soi 3, but a group of taxi drivers prevented them. As a result, both sides exchanged blows and threw things at each other until more than 60 policemen arrived to settle the situation.

The radio station is known for supporting the coalition government led by the People Power party (PPP).

Meanwhile at Suvarnabhumi airport, groups of taxi drivers and supporters of the PAD armed with weapons, including slingshots, fought each other before the police broke up the violence.

PAD’s big push on Tuesday evening was to take over the Suvarnabhumi Bangkok international airport. The timing was probably triggered by Prime Minister Somchai’s scheduled return from Lima but is also part of the PAD’s final push to topple the government.

Protesters, many masked, and many armed with wooden and metal rods, were allowed to break through police lines and flowed into the busy terminal. Meanwhile cars and trucks to block the only highway with access to the airport. The access roads were clogged with thousands of protestors marching to the airport.

Acting Airports of Thailand (AoT) president and Acting Suvarnabhumi Airport Director Serirat Prasutanont announced shortly after 9pm that the airport was cancelling all departing flights. Flights are currently cancelled until 7am. Assuming the protestors are still at the airport the cancellations will continue long into tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Some incoming flights are still arriving, but when passengers and crew disembark there is no way currently to leave the airport safely. Emirates Airline wisely returned one flight to Hong Kong and diverted another to Kuala Lumpur.

Thai Airways reported that more than 21 flights, to Japan, India, Iran, Europe, among others, were cancelled Tuesday night. This affected up to 6,000 travellers. Overall, up to 10,000 travellers could be affected Tuesday night alone, according to airline sources. Many passengers are stranded in the airport unable to either leave for their destination or return to home or hotels.

Thai Airways have no mention of delays or cancellations or of airport violence on their web site. Pathetic really. The AOT and Bangkok Airport sites are equally useless.

AOT also has provided a hotline number for inquiries: 02-1321882 and 02-1321888. However, an AOT official said the lines soon became jammed.

For Thai flight information, the following number 02-3561111 has been provided. Expect the number to be permanently engaged and then you wont be disappointed.

British Airways web site reports that BA009 British Airways service from London Heathrow to Bangkok and Sydney on 25 November 2008 has been cancelled.

The BA010 from Sydney via Bangkok to London Heathrow on 25 November is now operating from Sydney via Singapore to London Heathrow

The BA010 from Sydney to Bangkok and London Heathrow on 27 November 2008 has been cancelled.

With the closure of the main access to the airport closed some passengers had to walk with their luggage for up to two kilometres and through the threatening hordes to reach the terminal.

The increasingly power crazed PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul announced at the anti-government stage at Government House that Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat must resign without any condition to pay for its guilt in the Oct 7 violence which killed a demonstrator and injured many at the occupied Government House.

How we got to this point probably does not matter. What does matter is that anyone watching the scenes from BKK today will see anarchy. Mobs are shooting at each other and throwing grenades while the Police stand-by and watch. Thailand’s image and economy are at stake.

The government cannot afford to let this situation continue if only to show that it is not impotent. But a violent solution gives the PAD exactly what they want. It is very hard to tell what will happen next.