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Wed 3 Dec 2008 06:15 AM

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UAE relief flights continue as Bangkok protests end

Thousands of stranded UAE residents already given help, with more flights in the pipeline.

UAE relief flights to and from Bangkok continued on Wednesday as thousands of anti-government protesters prepared to end a blockade of the city's two airports and airlines readied to resume services.

Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat was banned from politics for five years and his party disbanded on Tuesday, spurring jubilant anti-government protesters to end their blockades of the capital's airports.

Serirat Prasutanond, acting head of Airports of Thailand, said Bangkok's international airport could resume "partial service" by midnight on Thursday after anti-government protesters end their blockade on Wednesday morning.

He said it could take "a few more days" to clean up the international terminal, reboot computer systems and make other checks. But it was too early to say when full service would start, he said.

Meanwhile, the UAE's Foreign Ministry is urging caution to any resident thinking of travelling to Bangkok.

UAE Foreign Ministry, issued a statement today urging UAE nationals to be cautious before taking a decision to travel to Thailand despite resumption of the flights at Bangkok Airport until situation is clear.

And relief flights transporting UAE nationals home from Thailand are continuing, under the orders of UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, news agency WAM reported.

Three planes have already arrived in the UAE carrying 654 UAE elderly and sick passengers.

A fourth plane full of passengers will arrive at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday, while a fifth will arrive on Thursday.

Etihad Airways has flown 2,000 passengers on relief flights so far from U-Tapao airport in Thailand to its home base of Abu Dhabi and is finalising plans to start two flights a day for stranded travellers from Wednesday with one aircraft operating from U-Tapao and the other flying from Phuket.

Some 250,000 foreign tourists have been stranded by the sit-ins at Suvarnabhumi, a major Asian hub, and the domestic Don Muang terminal.

Serirat said on Wednesday passengers would check in at a temporary facility in Bangkok and then be taken by bus to the airport on the outskirts of the capital.

"The partial service can start at midnight on December 4 at the latest," he told Reuters. He did not say how many flights were planned.

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Duval 11 years ago

I was incensed to read these headlines " Relief flights from the UAE continue " I have just managed to get out of Bangkok as I was abandomed by Emirates who offered no help at all to the stranded passengers. Nothing at all not even an apology. I had to stand in this small military airport for two days before finally bording an air Malasian fligtht. Asd I was boarding I noticed, Etihad, Oman air and Qatar air were there helping there passengers but no Emirates. This is just unbeleivable. I have a nasty taste in my mouth re Emirates.