The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) plans to dispatch two aircraft and officials
to help evacuate Thais from Hong Kong as confrontations between police and
protesters raise the prospect that flights at Hong Kong's international
airport may remain suspended going into the weekend.

The RTAF swung into action after protesters severely crippled operations at
Chek Lap Kok airport for a second day on Tuesday, forcing authorities to
cancel all remaining flights out of the city after demonstrators took over
the terminals as part of their push for democratic reforms.

After a brief respite in the morning, during which flights were able to take
off and land, the airport authority announced check-in services for departing
flights were suspended as of 4.30pm, Hong Kong time.

It said it did not expect arriving flights to be affected, though dozens were
already cancelled. The authority advised people not to come to the airport,
one of the world's busiest transport hubs.

On Monday, more than 200 flights were cancelled and the airport was
effectively shut down with no flights taking off or landing.

Passengers have been forced to seek accommodation in the city while airlines
struggle to find other ways to get them to their destinations.

Air force chief ACM Chaiyapruk Didyasarin has asked air force officers to
monitor and assess the unrest closely and prepare air routes, RTAF spokesman
AM Pongsak Semacha said.

"It all comes down to landing [in Hong Kong]. It depends on the government.
However, we are ready to act," he said.

Meanwhile, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, the national police chief, has
directed the Immigration Bureau, Tourist Police Bureau, and Thai airports to
fast-track the return of Thai citizens.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the Royal Thai Consulate-General in
Hong Kong is providing regular updates and is assessing the situation daily.

"I urge all Thais to avoid areas where protests are continuing. I have
requested the Ministry of Transport to come up with plans. I get reports all
day. Don't worry. There are procedures for dealing with incidents that take
place in other countries," he said.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the number of Thais in Hong Kong
remains unknown, but confirmed that nobody has been injured in the protests
because clashes between police and rioters have generally been confined to
specific areas of the city.

"The government doesn't forbid Thais from going to Hong Kong because it is
their personal right. However, it is advisable to postpone a trip if it is
not urgent. If it is necessary, please plan it carefully," he said.

Kasikorn Research Centre predicts that the protests in Hong Kong could
negatively impact the 30,000 Hong Kong tourists expected to arrive in
Thailand this week, leading to financial losses of 1.4 billion baht if the
airport shutdown lasts all week.

The centre urged Thai authorities to issue guidelines to foreign tourists who
want to visit Thailand. These include recommending direct flights and
transits via another hub airport.

In 2018, 1.02 million tourists visited Thailand from Hong Kong, generating
revenues of 42 billion baht.

According to the Royal Thai Consulate-General, protesters were continuing to
gather at Terminal 1 of Hong Kong's international airport at 1pm local time
on Tuesday.

Some staged a peaceful sit-in in the arrival area, but others used barriers
to block passengers in the departure hall and at the entrance to the
immigration checkpoints, which prevented staff and immigration officials from
doing their duty.

As of 4.30pm on Tuesday, Chek Lap Kok airport had already cancelled all
remaining departing flights for a second day.

The Royal Thai Consulate-General suggested that Thais due to board flights at
the airport on Tuesday and today should consult their airlines for updates on
the status of their flights and avoid protest-ridden areas at the airport if
at all possible.

Some Thais who were stranded in Hong Kong on Monday night have returned to
Thailand via Hong Kong Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Thai Airways. Thai
AirAsia also announced that it had managed to resume some flights between the
two destinations before the airport closed again.
2019/08/14, 6:34:36 晚上
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