Thailand cancels, adjusts flights ahead of lantern festival

Lanterns being released for good luck in the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Lanterns being released for good luck in the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand. PHOTO: AGODA.COM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Dozens of flights to northern Thailand will be cancelled or rescheduled when the country celebrates its annual Floating Lantern festival next week, airport officials said on Friday (Nov 11).

Chiang Mai International Airport, the main airport in northern Thailand - a destination popular with foreign tourists - said some flights would be cancelled between Nov 12 and Nov 16 as floating lanterns released during the festival could affect safety.

The Floating Lantern festival is celebrated at the end of the so-called "rainy season" when paper lanterns are launched into the air to coincide with a full moon.

In recent years, authorities have asked revellers to refrain from launching the lanterns because they pose a fire risk. In 2015, a Bangkok Airways flight was cancelled after a lantern was sucked into the plane's engine.

The government has asked that activities held during the festival be scaled back this year as a sign of respect for revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Oct 13.

Thailand is officially in a one-year period of mourning for the late monarch.

National carrier Thai Airways International said in a note on Thursday that it would cancel some roundtrip flights from the Thai capital Bangkok to Chiang Mai, adding that it would adjust its flight schedule and increase flights to compensate.