Thai air safety upgrade opens up new routes
The UN’s aviation agency has removed a safety “red flag” against Thai carriers, the kingdom’s junta leader said on Monday, in a major boost to the country’s stuttering airlines.
A 2015 audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of Thai airlines found “significant safety concerns” prompting the downgrade.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) said the ICAO had made the decision after a meeting on Friday.
After this, Thailand’s Ministry of Transport will go ahead to solve two issues, including other insignificant matters for safety, and development of aviation personnel sufficient for working up to and maintaining the standard, he said.
The country’s Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that, based on the ICAO in Asia-Pacific office, the red flag that appeared against Thailand on its website had disappeared. It was considered a positive move for Thailand which had been previously given the red-flag due to significant security concerns from the ICAO. The government sought the ICAO’s reassessment on June 30 and its representatives arrived for the task on Sept 20-27, Gen Prayut said – ending with the removal of the red flag.
That triggered restrictions on Thai carriers launching new global routes, cramping expansion plans for a sector that has in recent years labored under debts and management woes. Shares in Asia Aviation, which operates as Thai Air Asia, rose as much as 5 percent and later traded up almost 4 percent.
One effect of the disruption caused by the red flag was an inability of airlines awaiting recertification to later their fleets on existing routes, since this would have complicated an already gruelling audit process. Shares in airport operator Airports of Thailand rose over 2 percent.
“We will likely increase routes and frequencies for China, South Korea, and Japan”, he told Reuters on Monday, adding Thai AirAsia X now hoped to add three to four aircraft to its fleet next year.
Asia Plus Securities expects Thai Airways International Plc with its plans for more routes in Japan, South Korea and the United States to see the highest gain, followed by Nok Air which plans to expand its routes in Japan and South Korea.