Thai flights resume but thousands still stranded

Some Britons were able to return home from strife-torn Thailand today but thousands of tourists remained stranded.

While some countries laid on special planes to get their nationals home, Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell appeared to rule out using Government-chartered flights, saying the two main Thai airports were still shut due to anti-government protests.



Thai Airways and Dubai-based carrier Emirates were among airlines laying on extra flights from airports not affected by the protests that have rocked the country in recent days.



Aircraft stuck at the main Bangkok airport were allowed to leave but some were pulling away empty.



To make matters worse, the protesters - members of the People's Alliance for Democracy - stressed they would not allow airports to reopen until the government stood down.



A spokeswoman from UK travel organisation Abta said today: "It is hoped that some UK tourists might be able to leave from Utapao military airport, while Emirates are taking people to London from Chiang Mai airport in Thailand via Dubai."



Package tours to Thailand have been suspended, as have British Airways daily services between London and Bangkok.



Among those managing to get out of Thailand was the pregnant wife of England rugby league captain Jamie Peacock.



Faye Peacock and the couple's four-year-old son Lewis boarded a flight to Stockholm and were due to land in Manchester this morning.



The England and Leeds Rhino player said: "I am looking forward now to having a great Christmas with my family and the safe arrival of our second child in the New Year."



Mr Rammell said: "The key issue is the fact the two airports in Bangkok are closed and therefore you've effectively got planes stacking up and not being able to get slots."



A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "The situation in Thailand remains tense and we are following events very closely.



"We regret the violence surrounding the protests and have reiterated to the government, the army, the demonstrators, and others in Bangkok that all parties need to work to resolve the crisis, respecting the rule of law and the country's democratic institutions.



"Bangkok's two main airports remain closed but airlines have been able to arrange flights and transfers to and from alternative airports. Some British nationals have been able to fly out but not in the necessary numbers.



"We have continued our consultations with airlines and Thai authorities today and action is being stepped up to enable people to travel in greater numbers, for example via Chiang Mai."



He added that British Embassy staff were regularly visiting British nationals stuck in Bangkok and providing consular help, such as refreshing supplies of prescription medication.



Australian carrier Qantas said it would operate a relief flight today between the Thai resort of Phuket and Singapore and another on Wednesday.



Qantas also said its subsidiary carrier Jetstar would operate its scheduled Melbourne-Bangkok service tomorrow via Phuket, with passengers bussed between Phuket and Bangkok, and continue to operate its scheduled three-times-a-week Sydney-Phuket services.



Qantas said the three flights would provide about 900 seats.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...