Nok Air plane slides off runway in Chiang Rai, all flights cancelled

Nok Air plane slides off runway in Chiang Rai, all flights cancelled

Chiang Rai airport will not reopen until Wednesday

Rescuers and medics help passengers leave a Nok Air plane after it slid off a runway at Mae Fah Luang airport in Chiang Rai on Saturday. (Photo from Warangkhana Wongchai Facebook account)
Rescuers and medics help passengers leave a Nok Air plane after it slid off a runway at Mae Fah Luang airport in Chiang Rai on Saturday. (Photo from Warangkhana Wongchai Facebook account)

A Nok Air Boeing 737-800 slid off the runway while landing at the Mae Fah Luang international airport in the northern province of Chiang Rai in heavy rain on Saturday night but nobody was hurt.

The airport will remain closed until Wednesday.

According to an announcement issued by the airline on Saturday, Nok Air Flight DD108 (Don Mueang - Chiang Rai) with 164 passengers and six crew members on board departed from Don Mueang airport at 8.03pm and arrived at Mae Fah Luang airport at 9.06pm.

While landing, the aircraft slid off the runway because of the heavy rain but the pilots managed to safely bring the aircraft to a halt. All of the passengers and crew members were safely moved to the passenger building. Nobody was injured.

An investigation was underway into the incident.

Nok Air said on Sunday that all flights to Chiang Rai were cancelled.

The Mae Fah Luang airport also said the runway would be closed on Sunday between 6am and 10pm due to the incident. It later extended the closure until Wednesday in order to complete an investigation of the incident and clear the runway area.

Passengers on flight DD108 can receive their luggage at the domestic arrival area or contact the airline, an airport official added.

Following the incident, Thai Smile, Thai Vietjet and Thai Air Asia will on Sunday transport their departing passengers by bus from Mae Fah Luang airport in Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai international airport, from where they can further travel by air to their destinations.

According to the announcement from Nok Air, the company took good care of the passengers by providing them with snacks and drinks while waiting for their luggage.

However, some of the passengers posted comments on Facebook, saying that they were not provided with any refreshments as announced by the airline.

Passengers continued to air anger at the low-cost airline about its claims it had helped passengers on the plane and others with flight bookings.

Many complained about a busy signal at its call centre 1318, saying they tried calling for hours without anyone picking up.  They only heard an automated reply apologising for inconvenience as the line was busy.

They also criticised Nok Air for failing to take care of passengers with outgoing flights after other airlines arranged buses to take their customers to the airport in Chiang Mai. 

A Facebook user named Warangkhana Wongchai said after the incident, crew members kept most passengers in the aircraft for about an hour, allowing fewer than 20 to leave. The remainder were eventually permitted to disembark only after complaining they found it difficult to breathe in the cabin, she said.

"After an hour, there were only two vans shuttling passengers," she said.

"I understand that nobody expects accidents to happen. But the evacuation plan was terrible and very, very slow."

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