Last week's incident at Suvarnabhumi airport that began when a Thai Airways International jetliner skidded off the runway was poorly handled almost from the start. Indeed, it seems that only the flight crew has earned respect for its actions. Within minutes of the plane coming to rest and the evacuation of passengers, airline officials took control of the situation. Soon, almost every action seemed to make matters worse.
An unidentified airline manager or executive ordered maintenance crews to paint over the national flag and all Thai Airways International logos and identification on the tail and fuselage of the stricken plane. The airline was clearly not prepared for the late-night crisis of emergency evacuation. When passengers and others voiced complaints, they were actually criticised by the top THAI executives. Then, without investigation, THAI declared the cause of the accident was poor equipment by Airbus, maker of the A330-300 involved.
The amateurish paint job was a public relations disaster. Photos of the painting crew and the slipshod job that left black blobs spread worldwide. A relatively minor airport accident that would have gone almost unremarked instead was front-page news and featured on websites and blogs everywhere _ with mirth or amazement. THAI's unfortunate attempt to pin blame on the Star Alliance was quickly shot down, since there is no such policy by Star.