THE THAI government said the country would regain confidence in her aviation standard, and Thai airlines are expected to add flights, after the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) removed a red flag against Thailand over safety concerns.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that it was a pride of Thailand and a significant turning point for the country’s aviation industry after concerted efforts boosted confidence in Thai airlines and a plan for the nation as a regional aviation hub.
Thailand was downgraded in June 2015 after its regulator missed a deadline to fix significant safety concerns and 33 issues remained to be resolved. As a result, airlines were unable to add further international routes, though they could continue to operate routine flights.
According to Prayut, the ICAO had made the decision after a meeting last Friday.
So far, 18 airlines in the country have been improved to a sufficient standard and there are 10 more |airlines for further improve-|ment to the standard within |this December, 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.
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.
“Lifting the red flag will allow Thai airlines to fly all routes where Thailand has aviation agreements. There was no limitations like earlier. Thai airlines are expected to add more potential routes,” he said.
Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)’s director-general Chula Sukmanop said that Thailand expects to regain a Category One status from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on expectation to see the result in the first quarter of next year. The FAA also downgraded Thailand in 2015.
The list of nine, out of 11, airlines which were granted air operator’s certificates (AOCs) was sent to the ICAO for acknowledgement, he said, expressing confidence two more airlines would receive AOCs.
He said lifting the red flag would give more confidence to other regional auditors. CAAT will meet with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for discussion on ICAO’s removal of the red flag against Thailand and her improvements.
KTB Securities (Thailand)’s Senior Director Mongkol Puangpetra said that the Thai aviation industry’s outlook improved after the ICAO’s red-flag removal against Thailand, which could foster the Thai aviation industry to grow more.
Nok Air Plc is expected to gain most with more flights, he said. In the fourth quarter of this year, the airlines are expected to grow satisfactory as a result of more Chinese tourists.
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.
AirAsia could also gain with passengers who travel by Thai AirAsia X which is expected to open new routes in South Korea and Japan.
Kasikorn Research Center also reported that the ICAO removal of the red flag will boost Thailand’s aviation revenue to the tune of achieving Bt278 billion by the end of this year and will achieve Bt294.5 billion in the year 2018 or up 5.5 per cent from this year.
Yesterday, share prices of aviation firms rose following the ICAO move but The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) Index closed lower at 1,692.22, dropping 3.75 points with a trade value of Bt47.92 billion.
Thai Airways International Plc closed at Bt19.10 per share yesterday, up 3.24 per cent from Friday. Asia Aviation closed at Bt6.70, up 3.06 per cent. Nok Airlines also closed at Bt3.60 per share, up 2.27 per cent from Friday. Bangkok Airways Plc’s share price ended at Bt18.80 per share, up 1.06 per cent from Friday.