Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations


Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here


One of few demonstrators outside the airport on Sunday morning

Phuket Air Crisis: Protestors To Consider Options

Sunday, August 31, 2008

TALKS aimed at ending a political protest that has stopped all flights in and out of Phuket International Airport broke up after 1am on Sunday morning without a resolution to the crisis.

An extended blockade by the People's Alliance for Democracy, which hopes its actions will bring down Thailand's national government, has left thousands of tourists stranded on the holiday resort island.

Thousands more around the globe had their planned holidays postponed or cancelled, or changed destinations.

Leaders of the PAD and a resort union splinter group planned to consult other members in the protest groups at 9am on Sunday before making a decision about what to do next.

The prospect of a resumption of flights from Monday was being talked about, provided the other protestors agree.

Airlines need at least six hours' notice to reschedule flights and engage crews to fly in and out of Phuket again.

Protests began at the airport soon after 1pm on Friday and led to the cancellation of flights from 4.50pm that afternoon.

The tally of cancelled flights continued to rise well beyond 150 as negotiations continued through Saturday and into Sunday, but without settlement.

Internationally, the protest action against the national government led to headlines including 'Tourists Trapped in Thailand' and 'Aussies Stranded in Thai Protests.'

The crisis prompted Airport General Manager Wicha Nurnlop to say it was in some ways ''worse than the 2004 tsunami.'' It is certainly proving to be a disaster for Phuket tourism.

About 15,000 people usually come and go on flights in and out of Phuket each day.

The latest series of meetings between the PAD, a splinter group involving resort unions and Airports of Thailand officials began around 9.30pm on Saturday and broke up around 1am on Sunday.

Wing Commander Wicha warned the PAD leaders and other involved in talks that they were putting at risk 25 years of tourism on Phuket.

More than 150 flights have been cancelled or diverted and the island's tourism industry faces a tarnished image and still-mounting financial losses.

Stranded tourists have been advised to check with the management of their resorts or guest houses about the situation at the airport rather than go there direct in the hope that flights might resume.

Some among hundreds of tourists in the airport on Saturday afternoon were short of funds after spending just about everything on package holidays on Phuket.

The airport was later emptied as people headed off to find temporary accommodation for the duration of the disruption. Protestors went home, too.

Disruption to the island's lifeblood tourism industry seemed certain to continue into Sunday.

One stranded passenger emailed from Singapore: ''I am from the UK and I flew to Hong Kong about a week ago and my flight was delayed 26 hours because of the typhoon.

''Now I am on the way from Singapore to Phuket and it looks like I am losing yet another day of my holiday.''

An Australian man was on a Silk Air flight 20 minutes from landing on Phuket when the call came for the pilot to turn back.

That potential Phuket tourist waited 24 hours in Singapore, then headed for home.

Plenty of other tourists already on Phuket were also looking for a way home.

Police reinforcements from Suratthani Region 8 Headquarters brought the total number of police at the airport on Saturday to about 400 officers but there was no suggestion of them taking action.

Wing Commander Wicha said that airlines had assured him that the tickets of those caught up in the crisis would be honored. A total of 11 airlines were being affected.

Phuket's Days of Drama:

Phuket Paralysed: No Flights Before 6pm or Later
Phuket Airport will not reopen until 6pm or later; PAD wants Prime Minister to resign first; Police Chief joins crisis meeting; Tourist turn up for missing flights and ask: Why?

Phuket Paralysed: No Flights Before 6pm or Later

Phuket Siege Lifts For Lone Flights to Bangkok
With international flights bound for Phuket being diverted and the island's airport shut down, a special plea was made for PAD leaders to allow one flight to beat the blockade and carry stranded passengers to Bangkok.

Phuket Siege Lifts For Lone Flights to Bangkok

Phuket Airport Invasion: Night of Uncertainty
No flights in or out of Phuket until 6am on Saturday. Why is Phuket's tourism industry now part of a political dispute? That was the question being asked as anti-government protestors continued to occupy the island's international airport, forcing a halt to all flights.

Phuket Airport Invasion: Night of Uncertainty

Phuket Siege Latest: International Flights Diverted
Flights in and out of Phuket are not likely to resume before Saturday morning. Phuket airport was tonight in the hands of PAD anti-government protestors after 30 international flights were turned away.

Phuket Siege Latest: International Flights Diverted

Siege of Phuket Airport Blow by Blow
PAD protestors besiege Phuket International Airport; Thai Airways suspends all flights nationally; Reports of protestors on tarmac; All flights halted; Governor in crisis talks with PAD leaders; Phuket police chief calls in reinforcements.

The Siege of Phuket Airport Blow by Blow


Comments have been disabled for this article.


The people who are protesting and stopping flights in and out of Phuket should realise that around 95% of the Phuket economy relies on tourism. This is a disaster for Phuket, just when Phuket was again getting on its feet these people bring it to its knees.

Even people who are not directly employed by the tourism industry will be effected - can they not see this?

The push to make Phuket a tourist destination where high spending people come to holiday has vanished....

Posted by Anonymous on August 30, 2008 19:18


Stranded in Phuket, dropped off by taxi at airport, not told by Banthai Hotel at Patong Beach of possible problems, so were unaware of anything amiss until we were threatened with violence by protesters as we tried to struggle with luggage in the midday heat, we will not be back, two weeks and ten thousand Australian dollars spent here for the last time. You don't want tourists, Phuket? OK, you won't get them.

Posted by paul on August 30, 2008 20:41


I was scheduled to arrive in Phuket on 8/31/08 but had to make a last minute cancellation. Why do people have to mix politics with tourism? Guys, let's have a revolution and fun at the same time. I don't know if I'll have the appetite for Phuket again in the near future.

Posted by John on August 31, 2008 03:15

Monday October 25, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


Facebook Twitter