March 23, 2014 00:00 By The Sunday Nation 4,988 Viewed
Four flightwere forced to return to Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports yesterday morning after being unable to land at Chiang Mai Airport due to poor visibility because of the haze, said Chiang Mai Airport director Wing Commander Lakchai Chaloeyprach.
AirAsia’s Kuala Lumpur-Chiang Mai and Don Mueang-Chiang Mai planes returned to Don Mueang while Bangkok Airways’ Subarnabhumi-Chiang Mai plane and Thai Airways’ Subarnabhumi-Chiang Mai plane returned to Suvarnabhumi. With rainfall forecast for Chiang Mai and the upper North today, he said the situation should improve soon. Passengers who stayed on at the airport were given refunds. They understood the situation, so there was no problem, he added.
Chiang Mai’s particles smaller than 10 microns (PM10) yesterday was 282 micrograms per cubic metre at tambon Chang Pheuk and 234 micrograms at tambon Sri Phum, well beyond the safety level of 120 micrograms.
Other northern provinces also witnessed their PM10 readings exceed the safe level yesterday morning – 133 micrograms in Nan; 220 micrograms in Phayao; 165 micrograms in Lampang’s Muang district and 138 micrograms in Mae Mo district; 176 micrograms in Lamphun; and 270 in Chiang Rai’s Muang district and 234 micrograms in Mae Sai district. Mae Hong Son reported the highest amount of PM10 at 323 micrograms.
Haze in Mae Hong Son in the past three days had prompted Nok Air to suspend its daily flights to the province while poor visibility affected land transport, lamented Mae Hong Son’s Joint Public-Private Committee chairman Supoj Klinpraneet. He said the province’s 4,500-room accommodation sector was directly hit and was now only about 20-50 per cent booked. The haze cost the province’s tourism Bt10 million. If the problem weren’t solved fast, the province’s income from tourism would decline to less than Bt1 billion this year, compared to the 2013’s Bt1 billion and the 2012’s Bt1.5 billion, he added.
Chiang Rai’s Tourism Industry Council vice president Thanwarat Sripanya said if the haze issue was not resolved soon, it could affect the province’s tourism during Songkran.