PHUKET: All of the Hong-Kong-bound passengers stranded on Phuket for up to three days should be airlifted out on two special relief flights to Bangkok today, according to a government official.
''We have an R Airlines aircraft set to carry them to Don Muang airport,'' the Phuket Director of the Ministry of Tourism & Sport, Santi Pawai, said.
There were two flights scheduled, one at 12.55pm and another at 5.25pm, he said.
''We believe arrangements for flying to Hong Kong have been made or are being made.''
More than 200 people whose City Airways flight originated in Hong Kong were stuck on Phuket when Thai officials declined to allow the airline to operate scheduled flights from the holiday island on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Alternative arrangements were made for those who were due out on Saturday but the four-day holiday weekend meant that most flights into and out of Phuket were fully booked until today.
Khun Santi said he did not know why City Airways had been prevented from picking up passengers, other than there was a deficiency in documentation.
City Airways is a small airline owned by a group of Thai, Chinese and Hong Kong investors.
The airline's first flight took place in October 2012, the start of a charter service between Hong Kong and Bangkok, using a 170-seat Boeing 737-400 aircraft. It now has five 737-400s.
Changes in regulations in Thailand recently have enabled more small airlines to win approval.