Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PAD shut Airport of Thailand

PAD shuts Suvarnabhumi Airport

Thousands stranded as outbound flights cancelled

Suvarnabhumi airport and the travel plans of thousands of tourists were in turmoil last night after PAD supporters stormed the terminal, forcing authorities to shut down most operations.

PAD protesters jam the entry to the passenger terminal at Suvarnabhumi last night before storming inside, forcing the closure of the airport to outgoing flights. Airlines were making their own decisions on flight arrivals. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN
Outbound flights were suspended from 9pm and the terminal building was closed when People's Alliance for Democracy breached a thin line of police officers, Suvarnabhumi director Serirat Prasutanond said.

Inbound flights were still being allowed to land at the airport last night. Officials said it was up to the airlines whether they would continue to allow flights to land today.
The decision left thousands of passengers stranded inside the terminal. Night time is one of the peak periods for the airport as most flights to European cities take off after dark.
Airports of Thailand (AoT) officials tried in vain to persuade the PAD protesters not to enter the terminal.
A decision to reopen the airport would be decided later after officials assessed the situation, he said.
As reports of PAD supporters heading to Suvarnabhumi reached Samut Prakan governor Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, he contacted army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda to send troops to help police prevent them from storming into the airport's main areas.

The governor told Mr Serirat he had sought help from the army chief. But there was no response from the army, leaving an inadequate police cordon unable to cope with the mass of anti-government protesters.
The PAD demonstrators broke through police lines shortly after 8pm and walked among the passengers with some shouting "Fight! Fight!", frightening many foreign visitors.

Earlier, the PAD had issued a statement that it would shut Suvarnabhumi airport to force Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his coalition government to step down.
The PAD said the shutdown was a "must-do" measure to stop the "puppet government" from functioning.

"The PAD needs to elevate its protest and civil disobedience by shutting down Suvarnabhumi airport. We are issuing an ultimatum through the Thai public and the world community to Somchai Wongsawat and his government. They must step down immediately and without conditions," the statement said.

As thousands of protesters blocked off the airport, passengers were forced to drag their luggage along the lengthy access roads to the terminal, only to find their outbound flights cancelled.
About 400 crowd-control police from Samut Prakan and airport security guards were mobilised to stand guard.

Speaking from Peru, the prime minister said his chartered flight would not land at Suvarnabhumi today but refused to disclose his destination. "I will get off the plane wherever it lands," he said.
Mr Somchai's flight from Peru, due to leave at noon from Lima, was delayed for several hours because of technical problems.
He said he would not cave in to PAD pressure, saying only the people could dictate to him.
He said under the constitution, anyone who attempted to topple the government would be considered insurrectionists.
Mr Somchai lashed out at the PAD's siege of the government's temporary office at Don Mueang airport, saying the group was being irrational and damaging the country.
He said he would call an emergency meeting of security agencies after his return from Peru.
The premier doubted the PAD would allow a new parliamentary session to approve all agreements for Thailand to sign with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at the Chiang Mai summit next month.
Earlier in the day, the PAD demonstrators briefly rallied outside the Supreme Command headquarters on Chaeng Wattana road following a report that the cabinet would meet there.

The joint parliamentary sitting has been rescheduled for Dec 8-9.
Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Suchart Muenkaew said more checkpoints would be set up in and around Bangkok as more PAD supporters were coming to the capital.

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