Forty aircraft have flown empty from Bangkok’s international airport following an agreement with protestors to allow tourists and business travellers to fly out of airports elsewhere in Thailand.


Protestors have blockaded both Bangok’s airports since early last week demanding the removal of the government, stranding thousands of travellers. About 1,000 clients of UK tour operators are caught in the protest and many independent travellers have left Bangokok by bus in a search for alternative ways home.


Twelve aircraft belonging to international carriers and 29 from the fleet of Thai Airways are among those grounded in the city.


The Foreign Office said it is consulting Thai authorities and airlines on plans to fly people from Chiang Mai and Phuket.


International carriers are laying on relief flights. Air France-KLM plans to fly passengers from Phuket, as does Qantas. Other carriers, including Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific, are using the Utapao naval base 90 miles from Bangkok – Etihaad flying to Abu Dhabi and Cathay to Hong Kong.


The Thai authorities are divided on how to deal with the protest, which is made of supporters of the monarchy and army. The government fears a confrontation with police will trigger an army coup – the second in two years.


The protest is estimated to be costing the Thai tourism industry in excess of £55 million a day.