Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Thai airline safety falls short of global standards: ICAO

AP, BANGKOK, Thailand

Thailand has failed to meet a deadline for addressing safety concerns about its oversight of its airlines and has been added to a list of nations whose aviation authorities fall short of international standards, the UN body regulating world air traffic said on Friday.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) spokesman Anthony Philbin said in an e-mail from the group’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada, that its main concern focused on Thailand’s ability to conduct air operator certifications.

ICAO audited Thailand in January — for the first time since 2005 — and in March gave Thai authorities 90 days to rectify shortcomings it had found.

The kingdom failed to meet the deadline and joined 12 nations found deficient in managing their air carriers: Angola, Botswana, Djibouti, Eritrea, Georgia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malawi, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Uruguay.

There are 187 ICAO members in all.

Thailand’s preliminary listing in March disrupted its airline industry, as the ICAO evaluation led Japan, South Korea and China to temporarily block Thai airlines from adding more flights or modifying their schedules.

Philbin and Thai transport officials emphasized that the new listing does not amount to a fresh downgrading of Thai aviation and said Thai aviation authorities are working hard to correct the problems.

Philbin said Thai Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith traveled to ICAO headquarters recently “to accent his country’s commitment, at the highest level, to continue addressing the matter in their civil aviation authority, and we continue to work collaboratively with Thailand to help it achieve that goal.”

However, the issue is likely to continue to draw attention from aviation bodies in Europe and the US, whose assessments are influential worldwide and could lead to new restrictions on international flights by Thai airlines.

Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said at a news conference Friday that air operator certifications and permission to ship hazardous goods were the major issues cited by ICAO.

He said the European Civil Aviation Conference has been evaluating Thailand’s aviation measures and is expected to announce on June 25 its policy on Thai airlines.

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