Morning flights from Vientiane to the northern provinces have experienced delays recently because visibility has been impaired by smoke as farmers burn off brush prior to planting their rice crops.

Most of the flights that are affected go to Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Xieng Khuang and Luang Namtha provinces. Flights between Luang Prabang and Chiang Mai province in Thailand are also sometimes delayed, according to Lao Airlines’ Flight Operations Department.

The haze that blankets the sky in the morning is a major problem for pilots at this time of the year as they cannot land safely. But the problem is not as severe in the afternoons and evenings, department official Mr Vannasin Sombatsaphai told Vientiane Times yesterday.

“We have been able to fly at scheduled times when the sky is clear, but on other days we have to delay flights by 1-3 hours,” he said.

However, flights from Vientiane to the southern provinces of Champassak and Savannakhet are still able to depart on time.