16 Thai Airlines Suspend Their Operations After Failing Regulators Safety Assessments

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Thailand’s aviation safety woes continue as failed safety checks conducted by the national regulator has apparently caused 16 airlines registered in the country to lose their Air Operator Certificate (AOC).

Thailand got downgraded and ‘red flagged’ two years ago by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as their entire aviation sector including the countries airports did not meet safety standards.

We have written about the situation when it developed two years ago (see our article here) and since then there were little blurbs here and there as far as the current situation is concerned.

Apparently the ICAO inspectors are due either this or next month and as so many things in Thailand there is action in form of a last minute ‘quick fix’ which in this case means that some bad apples had their Air Operator Certificate (AOC) either revoked or the application process stopped despite them having operated under the same conditions for years.

And just now, a few weeks before the new inspections are due they have to stop flying? Sounds like too much of a coincidence to me.

The Nation (see here) had a report on it but didn’t specify which airlines were actually affected by this.

… The ICAO is due to send delegates to inspect Thailand’s new aviation safety regulatory system later this month or in early October, after which the agency is expected to consider lifting its “red flag”, which was imposed in 2015 due to safety concerns.

According to a government committee chaired by Deputy Premier Prawit Wongsuwan, Thai authorities had already issued AOCs to nine airlines under the new regulatory system, while another 11 airlines were in the process of applying for AOCs.

Due to the Thai aviation sector’s rapid growth rate over the past decades, there have been concerns about safety and other issues facing a large number of airlines registered in Thailand.

In addition, the regulatory system needs to be overhauled to cope with new challenges resulting in the restructuring of multiple agencies, including the CAAT.

As a result of failing to pass the CAAT’s assessments, all 16 airlines were ordered to suspend their service as of last Friday, in line with the ICAO’s regulations. …

After ICAO delegates review the country’s overall aviation safety and regulatory system, the agency is expected to report its assessment within the next 60 days, especially regarding the status of the red flag affecting Thailand.

I’d really love to know which airlines these are. There are a bunch of smaller carriers that always make headlines for all the wrong reasons such as Nok Air almost flying into a hospital building (see corresponding article here).

A Red Flag like the one that has been put in place, makes it impossible for Thai Carriers (especially charter carriers such as Thai Air Asia-X, Nok Air, Nok Scoot etc) but also Thai Airways to file new routes and expand their international network.

It’s a huge nuisance in the long term and considering it’s now been two years the airlines that service international destinations certainly want to get these restrictions lifted as soon as possible. Imagine the damage it does to their business of the airlines can’t offer new international destinations for such a long period.

This isn’t all that surprising given previous news reports (see related Bangkok Post article) that a former Thai Police General got caught at Tokyo Narita Airport with a gun and ammunition in his carry on which he boarded with at Bangkok BKK International Airport, likely bypassing usual airport security using his social standing.

Conclusion

As mentioned of course Thailand is keen on getting this red flag lifted even though I find the suspension of the ACO’s at this point of time very suspicious to say the least.

I’m surprised that given the current red flag and downgrade departures from Thailand are often cleared in the general, sterile departure area at Doha Hamad International Airport (flying Qatar Airways) while other arrivals have to undergo transit security at DOH. Go figure…

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