By Lawrence Audu
Up to 134 flights have been rescheduled as Phuket International Airport in Thailand closed a cracked runway for urgent repairs, airport officials said on Monday.
The decision to close a runway during the early hours of Monday and Tuesday followed reports of cracks late Sunday, said the Aiport Director, Phet Chancharoen.
Chancharoen blamed heavy air traffic during the high tourism season for wear and tear on the runway, while the Tourism Authority of Thailand estimated that 300,000 tourists travelled from China on Feb. 16 for Lunar New Year alone.
A total of 75 flights were rescheduled on Monday, while at least 59 others will be cancelled due to repairs on Tuesday.
Most of the flights cancelled were for international routes.
Runway closure for maintenance is conducted four times a year at the airport and airlines and passengers are informed months in advance.
This week’s sudden closure, however, was unavoidable after cracks covering almost 100 square metres were discovered, Chancharoen said.
Phuket, an island in the Andaman Sea popular among international tourists, is located 840 kilometres south of Bangkok.
Its airport manages up to 300 flights daily.