Thailand addressing FAA safety concerns as top priority; THAI Airways unaffected

1_FAA4Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha issued strict orders last week to his government and relevant agencies to address and resolve any and all concerns raised by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over Thailand’s air safety regime as a top priority of the government.

Meanwhile, THAI Airways said it is unaffected by the announcement and is committed to aviation safety standards, and assured all that THAI operates with the highest international aviation standards.

The Prime Minister issued his directive for a complete overhaul of Thai air safety regimes after the FAA downgraded Thailand to Category 2 in its air safety ratings following an assessment by visiting FAA officials. According to the FAA, Thailand’s main deficient areas are technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping and inspection procedure of the country’s oversight agency. Details of the assessment will be discussed between FAA and Thai aviation authorities.

On December 1, Ambassador Pisan Manawapat, called on Ms. Margaret Gilligan, Associate Administrator of FAA for Aviation Safety, to reconfirm political commitment of the Thai Government to tackle and resolve the outstanding and all remaining issues of aviation safety oversight. He also updated Ms Gilligan and her team of the FAA on Thailand ‘s latest master plan on recertification of 41 airlines and building a world class aviation safety organization. More meeting will be scheduled before the Christmas break to discuss the master plan and future steps of cooperation between FAA and the Thai counterpart.

Air traffic in Thailand has expanded exponentially during the past two decades which stretched the resources and staff of the aviation authorities tasked with oversight.

The lower ranking means that Thai airlines cannot launch or expand routes and services to U.S. destinations until the concerns are successfully addressed. However, no Thai airlines currently fly to the U.S.

Meanwhile, arrivals to Thailand continued to soar, and both Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways garnered security and product awards from the industry-recognized website for Best Economy Class and Best Regional Airline, respectively.

Tourists and businesspeople remain undeterred, however, in choosing the Kingdom as a destination. Arrivals increased by nearly 25 percent to 24.3 million during the first 10 months of the year, up from 19.5 million during the same period last year. Tourism officials said the country was on track to surpass their target of 28.8 million arrivals this year.

In fact, visitors from the Americas posted the highest growth of any group in arrivals with an increase of 8.36 percent. Visitors from the United States, from January to October, recorded the highest percentage increase in arrivals, up 10.16 percent at 70,841 visitors from 64,309.

Besides the FAA, Thailand is working closely with the ICAO and the aviation authority of Europe to strengthen the aviation regulation and oversight in Thailand.