(Update) Thai protesters agree to clear airport: protest leader

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 02 2008 05:14 PM | Updated as of Dec 03 2008 01:47 AM

BANGKOK - Anti-government demonstrators agreed Tuesday to allow flights to resume from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport after a week-long blockade, a protest leader and authorities said.

"As of this moment the PAD (People's Alliance for Democracy) has allowed flights to take off and land immediately, both passenger and cargo flights," senior alliance member Somkiat Pongpaiboon told reporters.

The PAD occupied Suvarnabhumi and the smaller Don Mueang domestic airport last week, stranding 350,000 passengers and causing massive damage to the Thai economy.

Thailand's airport authority confirmed there was an agreement with protesters, saying flights may be able to resume if there are no "technical problems".

"They're (the protesters) going to leave now...they told me, yes," Vudhihaandhu Vichairatama, chairman of the board of Airports of Thailand, told AFPTV.

"We have reached an agreement with PAD to start clearing protesters from the passenger zone to reopen Suvarnabhumi Airport," Vudhihaandhu told reporters at the airport earlier.

"But how soon depends on technical issues. If there is no technical problem the first flights would resume within 24 hours," he said.

All machines at the airport would have to be checked over before full airport operations could resume, Vudhihaandhu said.