THAI Airways seeking to resume flights to the United States


THAI Airways International intends to resume flights to the United States as soon as the Kingdom’s aviation regulatory agency passes muster with the International Civil Aviation Authority and the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority, the company president said last week, although THAI’s new American hub would probably be Seattle or San Francisco rather than Los Angeles.

The President of THAI Airways, Charamporn Jotikasthira said that flights to the U.S. would be non-stop, giving THAI an advantage over competing airlines in the region, almost all of which make at least one stop on their routes to the U.S.. THAI would begin service to the U.S. after it receives two new Boeing jetliners slated for delivery next year.

The ICAO downgraded Thailand in June 2015 for deficiencies in the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), the country’s regulator. The FAA followed suit in December. Thailand experienced soaring growth in air traffic over the past two decades and the DCA could not keep up with the ever-expanding workload of monitoring and inspections.

The current government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha responded to the downgrade by increasing funding to the DCA and supporting the agency to take any and all steps necessary to meet ICAO and FAA requirements. Thai aviation authorities have requested the next ICAO assessment take place in February 2017 in order to give them time to implement improvements that will dispel all concerns of the ICAO.

Since the turn of the century, there has been only one significant air accident in Thailand and it involved a local budget airline. Last year, THAI launched the Safety Beyond Compliance project to raise safety standards in the aviation industry that match those of the European Aviation Safety Agency. THAI is also working with several Scandinavian airlines in a data-sharing system called Enplore to devise measures to ensure safety.

THAI has struggled financially in recent years, forcing it to abandon several routes, including non-stop service to Los Angeles last year. But the airline’s financial performance has started to turn around. After three straight years of losses, THAI posted profits in the first quarter of 2016 that were 32 percent higher than during the same period last year. The turnaround was helped by a 25 percent reduction in fuel costs.

Charamporn said that THAI was making serious efforts to improve service in a bid to increase market share.