If you are on holiday in Thailand at the moment, you have probably realised that you are going to have some difficulty leaving the country. Yesterday the Thai riot police were on the run from their checkpoint outside Bangkok’s international airport when they were seen off by several hundred anti-government protesters.
On Friday 2,000 riot police had been deployed all around the airport, and it was suggested that they were going to evict the members of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who have occupied the terminal since Tuesday. The occupation has forced the cancellation of all flights, leading to turmoil and uncertainty for travellers in and out of Thailand.
An estimated 2,000 protesters have barricaded themselves into Suvarnabhumi airport and Bangkok's second airport, Don Muang, singing songs, waving flags, young and old, highly critical of the Thai government, but filled with loyalty for the Thai Royal Family.
Meanwhile, thousands of stranded passengers have been put up in hotels, waiting for the standoff to end.
Some travellers have been taken on buses from the resort town of Pattaya to the Vietnamese naval airbase of U-Tapao, which is south of Bangkok, and more than 60 flights have taken off from there.
In the light of the fact that the police have not been able to evict the demonstrators, the Thai prime minister has now sacked the police chief, Pacharawat Wongsuwan.
The PAD protesters, wearing hard hats and goggles, and armed with iron bars, are manning the barricade that they have built on the approach road to the airport.
Indicative of the popular nature of this uprising, the prime minister tried to reassure people in a national address on Friday that the airports would be cleared peacefully. “Don't worry,” he said. “Officials will use gentle measures to deal with them.”
Interestingly, cheap flights are still being offered to Bangkok - but probably by the time you have booked, all this will have blown over. Meanwhile, if you are stuck in Thailand, drop us a comment and let us know how things are.
It has been a tough week so far for people booked to fly with Alitalia, as Monday’s strike led to interminable queues, delays, and cancellations at Italian airports, because the strike had forced the carrier to cancel dozens of flights. The strike is in opposition to management’s plan to cut routes and jobs.
The long lines at Alitalia check-in counters at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport stretched almost to 100 metres as the terminal struggled with a backlog of hundreds of passengers who had spent the night sleeping on the floor or in chairs after their flights were cancelled due to the strike on Monday.
Some angry travelers even had to be calmed down by police as tempers grew, and ground staff started to feel unsafe.
Alitalia said that a total of 124 flights had been cancelled on Tuesday as a result of the Monday strike itself, and also because of work-to-rule action afterwards.
Some 200 Alitalia flight attendants and pilots staged a wildcat strike on Monday, blocking the crew entrance at Leonardo da Vinci and preventing staff wanting to fly from entering the terminal.
About forty flights in and out of Rome and Milan were cancelled on Saturday and further delays are expected next week.
The airline, which is 49.9 percent state-owned, is currently losing some three million euros (3.8 million dollars) a day.
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It seems that Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has scheduled a number of flight trials for its new E-190 aircraft at bustling gateway London City Airport, which is right next to the Canary Wharf business district. The reason for this choice is that London City is regarded as an ideal place for Embraer to secure the steep approach certification, because all inbound flights to the airport must perform a 5.5 degree approach, and manufacturers legally have to demonstrate up to 7.5 degree capability.
London City Airport is the UK’s leading business airport with ten airlines serving 32 destinations across the UK and Europe, and connections to the rest of the world through the major European hubs.
Embraer is seeking to have two of its four-member E-Jet family certified for use at London City, and one of its models, the E-170, received approval from the gateway last summer.
With its versatile cabin layout and “big jet” feel, the Embraer 190 is the ideal model for replacing older 100-seat aircraft, and offers lower operating costs and an impressive mission performance.
Embraer spokesman Luiz Fuchs says, “The Embraer 190 will be certified [for London City operations] by the end of next year, in the last quarter of 2009.” The Embraer 190 will be put through intensive trials including take-offs, landings and manoeuvring.
When it comes to proving that your new aircraft can handle those steep angles, London City Airport offers aircraft manufacturers the right environment to show what a plane can do.