2 new carriers set for takeoff
First Thai airlines to launch after red flag
Thailand's aviation industry is set to welcome two new low-cost carriers next year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) on Monday.
Thai Eastar Jet and Thai Summer Airways have obtained the required Air Operating Licences (AOL) and are currently in the process of obtaining their Air Operator Certificate (AOC), said CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop.
Thai Eastar Jet is a joint venture between Thai and South Korean investors, whereas Thai Summer counts Thai and Chinese businesses as its investors.
Mr Chula said Thai Eastar Jet is slated to receive its AOC next month, after it passes the last phase of airworthiness testing by the CAAT.
"Thai Summer is also waiting to receive its AOC and it has begun recruiting employees," he said.
Mr Chula explained that by law, new airlines are required to commence commercial fights within a year of being granted the AOL. "Technically, the two airlines will have to go into operation before the end of next year," he said.
It was reported that both airlines are planning to offer charter flights in the early stages of their operations.
The budget airlines will be the first two Thai-registered airliners to launch commercial services since Thailand was red-flagged by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) in June 2015 for failing to adequately deal with 33 "significant safety concerns" within a specified time frame.
On Oct 6, 2017, the ICAO lifted the red flag, indicating that Thailand's aviation safety standards now meet international benchmarks.
Mr Chula said Thai Eastar Jet's first commercial service will be between Bangkok and Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung.
The airlines is also planning to link Bangkok and South Korea, but plans for services have to be shelved for the time being as new flights to South Korea are affected by Thailand's Category 2 status imposed by the United States' Federal Aviation Administration since December 2015.
The FAA said Thailand fell short across several categories, such as pilot qualifications and training.
The government has set about trying to fix the flaws, but Thailand's status remains unchanged.
Both airlines will be allowed to hire just Thai pilots, as the requirement to employ a certain number of foreign pilots has been removed, he said.