BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Dancers, drummers and apologetic tourism officials greeted travelers Friday at the official reopening of Thailand’s main international airport, which was shut down for a week by anti-government protesters.
Still, there was more turmoil for weary tourists who found that Suvarnabhumi International Airport was operating at only about 50 percent capacity and scores of flights had been canceled.
For many, it was the continuation of a confusing and tiring ordeal that began Nov. 25 when the first of Bangkok’s two airports was shut down by an anti-government group seeking the ouster of the prime minister.
The closure stranded more than 300,000 visitors, forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and dealt a heavy blow to the country’s tourism-dependent economy. Bangkok’s domestic Don Muang airport reopened Thursday.
"There is a nice atmosphere and food here, but if you go down to the last counter you will see a lot of long faces because of all the canceled flights," said Nadine Woytal, a 27-year-old television reporter from Germany who found that her Thai Airways flight to Munich had been canceled. "It hasn’t been fun the past few days."
Most of the flights out of Suvarnabhumi were on local airlines Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and budget carrier Thai Air Asia.
Serirat Prasutanont, acting director of Airports of Thailand, said 547 flights were scheduled to arrive and depart Friday at Suvarnabhumi. He acknowledged it would be some time before all foreign carriers are fully operational.