PHUKET: Although there were attempts at Suratthani Airport to disrupt Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s visit to Nakhon Si Thammarat yesterday, Phuket International Airport (PIA) will not be closed again.
The Director of PIA, Wing Commander Wicha Nernlop, said that Phuket’s airport security has been increased and that no protesters are expected to disrupt operations there again.
Phuket’s airport was shut down for two days last month when People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters demanding the resignation of former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej stormed the facility and placed it under siege, stranding about 20,000 tourists.
Natjarong Ekpermsup, leader of the Phuket chapter of the PAD, told the Gazette that there would be no more airport closures here. “Now we know the way,” he said, explaining that there would be a change in strategy whereby protests would not occur at the airport or otherwise be allowed to damage tourism.
Mr Natjarong completes his one year term as PAD leader this month and a new leader has now been elected. As from October 1, the PAD leader for Phuket will be Mr Lertpong Tansowat. Mr Natjarong, who will remain on the Phuket PAD committee, told the Gazette that “Nai Lertpong will continue to follow our policy of not closing down airports and not disturbing the tourism industry.”
In yesterday’s incident at Suratthani, PAD supporters tried to block Prime Minister Somchai’s car from leaving the airport there, but police managed to clear the way for him to continue his trip by road to his home province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
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