Flying lanterns near airports in Thailand is punishable by death penalty, warns govt

Flying a lantern near an airport in Thailand is a very serious criminal offence carrying the harshest penalties, even the death penalty, according to government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek.

The spokesperson gave the stern warning at a press conference yesterday while thousands of people prepare to float paper lanterns into the sky to celebrate both Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals this evening.

Lanterns are strictly banned from flying anywhere near the six airports operated by Airports of Thailand (AOT): Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Don Mueang International Airpor, Chiang Mai Airport, Mae Fah Luang Airport Chiang Rai, Phuket International Airport and Hat Yai Airport.

Chiang Mai Airport is the biggest area of concern given the popularity of the Yi Ping festival when the entire sky glistens with paper lanterns.

Not only lanterns, but any “dangerous object” such as fireworks, pinwheels, laser beams, rockets, and drones are strictly disallowed in the skies in or around Thailand’s airports.

The banned area, the “air navigation safety zone,” is a loosely defined area anywhere where lanterns or other foreign objects could interfere with aircraft or hinder a pilot’s vision causing an accident. Chinese lanterns are a flying fire hazard that could become a serious problem if they got lodged in a plane’s engine.

According to the Air Navigation Act 2019, flying any of the aforementioned objects in the air navigation safety zone is a crime punishable by imprisonment of between 5 – 20 years, and/or a fine between 600,000-800,000 baht, and even the death penalty in serious cases.

It is assumed that the death penalty would only be used on lantern fliers who caused serious aviation accidents.

The government asked for cooperation from airlines to consider adjusting their flight schedules to reduce risks. Numerous flights have been cancelled or rescheduled due to lantern fear.

“On November 8-9, lanterns will be released between 7pm – 1am in Chiang Mai, for Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals. If you’re not sure whether the place you want to fly a lantern is near the airport or not, you can call Chiang Mai Airport to check on 053922000 ext. 23000 or 23431. AOT can be contacted on 022832000.”

Crime NewsThailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

Related Articles