The Aviation Sector in Thailand is undergoing a restructuring with certain parts becoming a private entity and therefore funding by the government will end. This means: More fees are coming!
After already announcing a fee for a newly introduced Passenger Clearance System last month, the new 15 THB Fee supposedly replaces government funding for training purposes.
A newspaper article of the Bangkok Post (access here) quotes the Director of Thailands Civil Aviation Authority (CAAT) that the regulating authority is now becoming independent from the state budget which requires them to look for new ways of funding.
The new Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) may charge more fees to airlines and passengers to cover its management and training costs. Director Chula Sukmanop said a 15-baht levy might be added to the airfare for each domestic or international trip.
Carriers might also be asked to pay higher fees for licence applications and business operations. The proceeds would help cover the management and training costs of CAAT staff, he told Thai media on Saturday. “We have been transformed into an independent organisation, which means we are no longer financed by the state budget. We need to support ourselves,” said Mr Chula. “In any case, we need to talk with airlines first before making the final decision.”
The CAAT was created in response to concerns expressed by international bodies about inadequate safety regulation and oversight by the now-defunct Department of Civil Aviation. They also pointed out that the department had a conflict of interest in that it was both a regulator and the operator of 28 provincial airports. The airport operations were spun off in October to a separate Transport Ministry agency known as the Airports Department, of which Mr Chula is also the director-general.
On the regulatory front, the CAAT and its predecessor have faced numerous problems, chief among them the lack of qualified inspectors to ensure that the growing number of Thailand-based airlines meet international standards. Authorities have complained for years about the lack of adequate government funding to offer competitive salaries to aviation safety professionals.
On one hand it could possibly be argued that no regulating agency in Thailand will ever be truly independent in their decision making. Such a thing is simply impossible in that country and there is a long list of reasons for that.
However, to give the CAAT more leeway in order to spin it off and transform it (at least on paper) into an independent agency might be a good start. 15 THB is not a lot of money for itself, you have to see it in the collective sum. The fee will be collected for both domestic and international passengers. You are able to access the statistics for Airports of Thailand here.
Last month it was announced that a fee of 35 THB would be levied in order to introduce an Advanced Passenger Background Check which has supposedly gone live on December 1st (LoyaltyLobby wrote about it here). The part about discontinuing ‘fast passes’ can’t be felt by passengers yet. I flew out of Bangkok a week ago and still used the Premium Lane.
Aviation Regulation and Safety is important and unfortunately these authorities are underfunded worldwide. This is not only a phenomenon that plagues countries such as Thailand but also the United States that always claims to be an authority in the field of Air Safety. The fact is, the FAA is critically understaffed and underfunded as well, barely able to follow their regulatory duties in a proper manner.
I for one would be gladly willing to pay an additional 100$ over the year to ensure authorities worldwide scrutinize the airlines more and the air traffic controller are given better working conditions. However since the work of such regulating agencies are rather invisible to the public, it’s a popular move by governments worldwide to remove funding from them and relocate the money into more visible projects.