Bangkok travel detour: U-Tapao, Vietnam War-era naval airbase

With protesters having commandeered Bangkok's two major international airports -- the old main airport at Don Mueang and the new Suvarnabhumi airport terminal -- flights are being diverted to an old air base. Reuters reports:

The government began shuttling thousands of stranded tourists by bus to U-Tapao, a Vietnam War-era naval airbase 150 km (90 miles) east of Bangkok, as an alternative landing site for airlines.

According to a schedule hand written on a white board outside the terminal, flights from Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Malaysian Air Services were expected.

Bloomberg reports:

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., which is evacuating people trapped in Thailand by protests, warned of “chaotic” conditions and long lines at a military airfield handling emergency flights. The carrier, Hong Kong’s biggest, is one of about a dozen airlines using U-tapao Airport, east of Bangkok near Pattaya.

More than 3,000 stranded travelers were evacuated to nearby hotels from Bangkok’s international airport yesterday. Thousands of people remain stranded in Thailand as the protests halt flights into the nation’s capital.

The anti-government mob that took over Bangkok's international airport not only stranded thousands of passengers, but potentially put tourists in the crossfire had clashes broken out between security forces and demonstrators. Reflecting on the situation at the airport, veteran Thailand blogger Fonzi lamented: "What is really astonishing to me is how the foreign embassies in Bangkok have remained silent over this crisis, except for worthless travel advisories."

Thailand blogger Happy has posted photos of tourists stranded in Bangkok (here and here) and has some shots of the airport demonstrators (here and here).

I continue to post updates about the situation in Bangkok at Jotman.com.

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