Anti-government protests, in Thailand, which have been building for four months now, and have paralyzed the government, battered the stock market, spooked foreign investors, and dealt a serious blow to the tourism industry, sent Thailand in to a bigger tailspin.
Thai authorities have shut down the Don Muang airport, which had been receiving some diverted flights from Suvarnabhumi airport. Till two years ago, prior to the opening of the new Suvarnabhumi airport, Don Muang was the primary airport of Bangkok.
The shut down of both airports in Bangkok, effectively shuts down over 90% of Thailand’s airport capacity.
Thailand’s powerful army commander, who has remained neutral in the conflict, stepped into the fray Wednesday, urging Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to step down.
He also asked thousands of protesters to end their siege of the main international Suvarnabhumi airport, which protesters have forced shut since Tuesday night, leaving hundreds of flights canceled, and left Thailand into a dysfunctional nation.
Serirat Prasutanont, chief of Thailand Airport Authority, said authorities feared that protesters who stormed the Don Muang terminal building late Wednesday might harm passengers and aircraft, and the shut down was pragmatic.
The U Ta Pao air force base, 140 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Bangkok, is now the closest airport to Bangkok. Phuket in the extreme south, and Chiang Mai in the extreme north, of Thailand are now the only two international airports still functional in Thailand.
At the same time, Mumbai is still in the grip of an on-going terrorist attack. While the Mumbai airport is unharmed and fully secure, the Thai experience should resonate in the minds of Indian aviation authorities. All Indian cities have only one airport. The protests in Thailand is just the latest reminder of fragility of putting all of our eggs in one basket – something already experienced by India and the United Kingdom before.
In parting, I love the defiant statement of the Taj Hotels group as on their website
We will rebuild every inch that has been damaged in this attack and bring back the Taj to its full glory.
Kudos to you Taj.