Festival lantern ban announced

Airports of Thailand (AoT) has warned against flying lanterns, balloons, makeshift rockets, drones, and other objects within the air navigation safety zone of the country’s six main airports on the night of the Loy Krathong festival on Tuesday.

Flashing laser beams into the sky within the same zone is also strictly prohibited under the 2019 Aviation Act as it can interfere with a pilot’s vision and have dangerous consequences, the AoT said yesterday.

Apart from Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan and Don Mueang in Bangkok, the other four airports are based in Chiang Mai, Mae Fa Luang in Chiang Rai, Phuket, and Hat Yai in Songkhla. According to the law, the air navigation safety zone is broadly defined as areas in and around an airport.

Those found guilty of violating Section 109/1 of the law by launching any of the aforementioned objects into the sky in prohibited areas that jeopardise the safety of an aircraft may face a maximum prison term of five years and/or a fine of up to 200,000 baht, said the AoT.

Lantern flying has long been a tradition on Loy Krathong, particularly in Chiang Mai. But due to concern over aviation safety, measures have been put in place to curb this annual rite.

Chiang Mai airport routinely cancels some flights on this day to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.

This year it announced changes to all 77 flights on Tuesday and Wednesday, 53 of which are to be cancelled while the rest have been rescheduled.

Certain areas in Muang, Hang Dong, Saraphi, Mae Rim, San Sai, and San Patong districts have also been declared areas requiring extra surveillance.