Chiang Rai Airport closure extended until Friday

3rd Aug 2022

Chiang Rai Airport

The Nok Air aircraft that ran off the runway in Chiang Rai on August 1 night has not yet been removed. Mae Fah Luang Airport in Chiang Rai has declared that it would stay closed for two more days, reopening on Friday, August 5 at 10 pm.

The airport announced the suspension of all incoming and outgoing flights on Sunday morning after Nok Air aircraft DD108 from Bangkok ran off the runway during landing and became mired in mud at about 9 pm on Saturday.

The airport said on Sunday that flights would resume at 10 pm same day. Later, the airport issued a second statement stating that the airport would be closed for three days due to the requirement for a crane and other equipment to remove the aircraft from the muck. They said that the airport would reopen on Wednesday, August 3 at 10 pm.

Yesterday evening, August 2, Airports of Thailand and Chiang Rai Airport issued a joint statement announcing that flights would not resume as scheduled on August 3. The airport requires two more days to remove the Boeing 737-800 from the side of the runway, according to the statement. Flights will resume on Friday at 10 pm.

The Thailand Civil Aviation Authority categorised the event as "severe." Although cabin personnel are required to evacuate "crashed" flights within 90 seconds, the 164 people on board were held on board for more than an hour, prompting indignation among passengers and the general public. According to one passenger's complaint, the engine was shut off and the plane's lights and air conditioning were off, trapping the passengers inside in the heat.

Nok Air issued a statement saying that the poorly handled evacuation was the result of cabin personnel adhering to "the strictest safety procedures."

The event has caused significant travel disruptions. Due to the airport's single runway, no incoming or outgoing planes are permitted for (at least) six days. The airport facilitates a daily average of 4,500 to 5,000 passengers with an average of 36 daily departures.