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Governor Niran in Patong on Friday to meet Mayor Keesin

Phuket Siege Lifts For Lone Flight to Bangkok

Saturday, August 30, 2008
NEWS and ANALYSIS
JUST one flight left Phuket International Airport overnight, Thai Airways PG986 carrying 137 passengers to Bangkok.

The flight, originally due to take off at 3pm, eventually headed for the capital at 8.35pm.

Most of those on board were departing foreign tourists, among the hundreds caught up in the occupation of the airport by Peoples Alliance for Democracy protestors.

Phuketwan has also been told that one of those on board was the Governor of Phuket, Niran Kanlayanamid.

The Governor held a meeting and briefed senior staff, including Vice-Governors Smith Palawatwichai, Worapoj Ratthasima and Tri Augkaradacha, before boarding the flight.

The Governor had an important appointment to keep - with the Crown Prince.

Earlier in the afternoon, Governor Niran had been involved in crisis talks with the local leaders of PAD aimed at restoring all flights.

But the PAD would not budge and at least 30 incoming flights from overseas destinations had to be diverted.

The PAD protest began about 1pm and the airport was formally closed at 4.50pm.

Earlier on Friday before the airport invasion by protestors, the Governor attended the first meeting of the new Patong tessaban.

In Patong, the Governor presented reelected mayor Pian Keesin with flowers after Khun Pian had survived an electoral challenge to his poll victory.

As the afternoon protest disrupted domestic and overseas flights, Phuket Airport General Manager Wicha Nurnlop told Phuketwan that he made a special plea to PAD for dispensation to allow one plane carrying stranded passengers to leave Phuket.

Airports of Thailand acting president Serirat Prasutanond was reported today as saying that he had cancelled all flights at Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai airports until further notice.

In Phuket late on Friday night, Wing Commander Wicha said he expected flights to resume sometime after 6am today. But allowances had to be made for the time it takes airlines to reorganise flights and crew.

The protest is being viewed by island tourism industry leaders as an unnecessary blow to the island's international image and its finances.

PAD leaders are likely to be asked to explain the reasoning for damaging the island's commercial interests as part of its long-standing political dispute in Bangkok with the national government.

Phuket's Days of Drama:

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

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