NokScoot, TAAX win back flight permits

NokScoot CEO Piya Yodmani, second left, and TAAX boss Nadda Buranasiri, second right, pose with their AOCs at a presentation ceremony.

Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) and NokScoot yesterday had their commercial flight operation permits re-certified by Thai authorities under globally accepted safety standards.

The re-issuance of air operator certificates (AOCs) to the two long-haul low-cost carriers brought the number of Thai-registered airlines granted the new licences to five.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said yesterday that progress made in issuing AOC re-certifications by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) will have important implications in the bid to remove the red flag placed on Thailand by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop said the combined capacity of the five airlines that have already received AOC re-certification represents 77% of total international routes operated by Thai-registered airlines.

CAAT expects three more airlines — Nok Air, THAI Smile and Thai Lion Air — to have their AOCs reissued by the end of June.

Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia and Thai Airways International have already had their AOCs reissued.

The capacities of the eight targeted airlines are sufficient to initially support CAAT’s application for ICAO to audit Thailand’s aviation safety standards.

CAAT earlier aimed to have 12-14 airlines, out of the total 23 Thai-registered carriers, re-certified.

According to Mr Chula, the combined capacity of these 12-14 airlines accounts for about 95% of total international traffic carried by Thai-registered airlines.

CAAT hopes to see ICAO complete the auditing process in a three-month period and then remove the red flag by early September, Mr Chula said.

The ICAO audit is to address the so-called significant safety concerns levelled at the Thai civil aviation authority itself, rather than airlines, back in 2015.

Removing the ICAO’s red flag will clear constraints on Thai-registered airlines to operate internationally, especially in countries that strictly abide by ICAO rules such as Japan, South Korea and the US.

NokScoot chief executive Piya Yodmani and TAAX chief executive Nadda Buranasiri said the new AOCs will allow the two airlines to start looking into expansions in a serious manner. Both indicated they were looking at northern Asia to expand their networks and fleet sizes.

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