China joins ban on new flights by Thai carriers

Joining South Korea and Japan, China has announced it will stop Thai airlines from scheduling new flights due to concerns raised by international aviation inspectors, officials said yesterday.

The announcement comes as Thailand moves into a busy travel period during the Songkran holidays, with about 100 charters to Japan and about 30,000 tickets affected, according to Somchai Piputwat of the Department of civil Aviation.

Reuters has some details on what prompted the UN International Civil Aviation Organization to issue its warning over Thai air safety:

One aviation source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters … the ICAO’s concerns revolved around the issue of operator certificates to carriers by the Thai authority. While the ICAO cannot “downgrade” states, its audits identify concerns that could lead countries to take steps such as banning flights.

“The audit revealed some safety concerns, primarily relating to air operator certification procedures,” ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin said in an email, adding that Thailand had submitted a plan to the ICAO to correct the issues identified.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was aware of ICAO’s safety concerns, but declined to say whether it was reviewing Thailand’s aviation safety status, and referred questions to Thai authorities.

Top transport official Air Chief Marshall Prajin Juntong acknowledged the issues on Monday, warning of a domino effect of other nations joining the ban. He hoped the matter would be resolved within eight months.

TOP: A Thai Airways Boeing 777-200 at Suvarnabhumi Airport in a February, 2012 file photo. Photo: David McElvey

Related:

Thai airlines face bans after safety review

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