Safety and financial concerns close in on Thai International
Crikey, 27 July 2015
The ‘real’ news about Thai International is getting worse as safety and financial performance concerns generate negative headlines in Bangkok. The Bangkok Post has reported that Airports of Thailand Plc is looking for aircraft parking to cope with the worst-case scenario in which Thai flights may be banned in other skies due to safety concerns.
The state owned airport company’s president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said on Wednesday that it had asked Thailand’s air force, the Department of Civil Aviation and a large jet capable regional airport for aircraft parking spots in the event Thai International flights were banned from operating in other countries.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) issued a “red flag” downgrade of Thai aviation safety in June and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States ordered the country’s aviation administration to correct deficiencies that had been identified in its oversight of the national flag carrier by October.
If the FAA formalises a downgrade of Thai air safety status the airline will be prohibited from increasing its flights to US airports and from exercising vital code-sharing agreements with US carriers.
China, Japan and South Korea have already been reported as restricting flights by some other Thai flag carriers to their airports, although those airlines were not related in their management or control to the main carrier Thai International.
However the possibility of US restrictions has been rendered academic in a fresh development overnight in which Thai International has said it will end its remaining America services to Los Angeles from 25 October citing financial losses on the route. Thai withdrew from its only other US port New York City in 2008.
That decision, and other route cuts, and the loss of more than 1400 jobs at Thai International are detailed in this Reuters report.
Thai International has been in decline in the Australian market this century, and is now a trivial player that was marginalised here by the expansion of Emirates, the entry of Jetstar, AirAsia X and Virgin Australia to the Australia-Thailand routes and changing leisure travel preferences.
The muscle flexing by ICAO and FAA in relation to the public administration of air safety in Thailand is arguably of more interest to Australian industry watchers than the decline of its major flag carrier in the face of competitive pressures.