Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai international airport is expected to resume normal operations soon, after, at about 4am this morning, the damaged Nok Air Boeing 737-800 plane was extracted from the soft ground at the edge of the runway, where it had been stuck since Saturday night.
The airline, the airport and the Royal Thai Air Force had worked non-stop, in pouring rain, in to move the plane, which was partially blocking the runway, closing the airport. All flights to Chiang Rai were cancelled as a result of the incident.
A press conference is scheduled at 1.30pm today at the airport about the reopening. Separately, Nok Air will also clarify the incident and its planned remedy to the affected passengers today.
Officials gave an insight into how they moved the disabled aircraft, the main landing gear of which got stuck in the soft ground beside the runway. A temporary road, paved with crushed stone, was built and covered with steel sheeting, from an airbase in Chiang Mai, to facilitate the removal of the plane. A crater was dug around the entrenched landing gear and crushed stone was poured in to solidify the ground.
For safety, the remaining fuel in the plane was pumped out and an airbag was deployed to lift it, so it could be moved easily.
The Boeing 737-800 from Bangkok was carrying 164 passengers and 6 crew when it skidded off the runway in heavy rain, as it was taxiing towards its parking position on the apron to disembark its passengers on Saturday night.