Thai Airways International executives bow in apology over a flight delay stemming from two off-duty pilots' insistence on being given first-class seats. In the middle is THAI president Sumeth Damrongchaitham.
Thai Airways International executives bow in apology over a flight delay stemming from two off-duty pilots' insistence on being given first-class seats. In the middle is THAI president Sumeth Damrongchaitham.

Captain, station chief blamed for delay

Tourism October 30, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

18,631 Viewed

THAI AIRWAYS International (THAI) has promised disciplinary action after an investigation found both the flight captain and the Zurich station manager had acted unethically in the delayed Zurich-Bangkok flight on October 11.



THAI president Sumeth Damrongchaitham apologised for the incident and said the investigation showed that the problems happened due to lack of coordination between the flight captain and the Zurich station manager. They failed to prioritise the interests of passengers and the airline in resolving the seating dispute of two off-duty pilots heading to Bangkok, he said.

Both the THAI staff acted against good corporate governance of the national carrier, which is focused on giving passengers first priority, while hurting the passengers and damaging the airline, he said.

The seating dispute involving the two pilots in TG971 from Zurich to Bangkok on October 11 delayed the flight by more than two hours. The insistence of the pilots for first-class seating resulted in two passengers who had been upgraded, having to return to business class.

The next step is to set up a committee, which will decide on the disciplinary penalties, said Sumeth, who declined to elaborate, saying it was THAI’s internal matter.

The less ons learned from this matter will be used for improvement of THAI’s organisational reform, which not only targets income and profit but also is striving to improve its corporate culture, he said.

“This was not the first time such an incident had happened. In the past too, off-duty pilots have agreed to change seats. There must be coordination first. 

“This problem was caused by the communication breakdown between both of them [the flight captain and the Zurich station chief],” he said. “After this incident, THAI must have clear and correct regulations.”

Sumeth said that the national airline would issue regulations on off-duty pilots who are on board as passive crew to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.

Since last mid-week, THAI has contacted all passengers who are members of Royal Orchid Plus (ROP), providing them THAI mileage as an apology, and will try to contact non-ROP passengers with a proper measure to apologise.

“I, as the management chief of THAI, and all related parties admit this mistake and apologise for this incident. I assure that the company prioritises both the highest safety standards and services for customers. After this, our work process will be improved for good coordination, and customer-interest will be at the centre in order to prevent the recurrence of such an incident in the future,” Sumeth said.

He said that such an incident can exact a cost in terms of business operations and hence the company must improve its regulations.