Travelers leave behind a Thailand still in crisis

Recent Outbreaks Posted on

Dancers, puppeteers and apologetic tourism officials greeted travelers as Bangkok's international airport officially reopened Friday, but frustration remained high with scores of flights canceled.

The airport was operating about 50 percent capacity. Many airlines were unwilling to say when they would restart operations with foreign carriers concerned about security and safety.

The weeklong airport occupation by the People's Alliance for Democracy protest group, which ended Wednesday, caused the cancellation of all flights and dealt a heavy blow to the country's tourism-dependent economy. It snarled cargo flights as well, heavily hitting time-sensitive exports like cut flowers.

More than 300,000 visitors were stranded during the shutdown and clearing the backlog is expected to take days.

"I'm pretty unhappy and sad," said Antoine Six, a 25-year-old ski instructor from France, as he drank from a half-empty bottle of vodka Friday after learning his flight had been canceled.

Serirat Prasutanont, acting director of Airports of Thailand, said 547 flights were scheduled to arrive and depart Friday at Suvarnabhumi, but most of those were Thai carriers.

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