November 11, 2016 / 3:47 AM / 2 years ago

Thailand cancels, adjusts flights ahead of lantern festival

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

Chiang Mai International Airport, the main airport in northern Thailand - a destination popular with foreign tourists - said some flights would be canceled 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 revelers to refrain from launching the lanterns because they pose a fire risk. In 2015, a Bangkok Airways flight was canceled 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.

Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Michael Perry

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