The European Aviation Safety Agency on Thursday spared Thai-registered airlines a ban from European skies, saying instead it will closely monitor and assist the country in upgrading its air-safety standards.
While the EASA did not yet publish the full results of its recent safety audit, the European Commission said in a statement that no Thai-registered airlines were added to its EU Air Safety List for the listing of carriers subject to operational bans or restrictions in the European Union to be updated officially on Friday.
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"The commission and the EASA are willing to continue to work with the Thai authorities to enhance aviation safety in the country," the statement read. "The commission and EASA will, however, closely monitor future developments and, if the protection of air passengers against safety risks so requires, the commission could then propose to include one or more air carriers from Thailand in the Air Safety List."
The EU reprieve comes as the first bit of good news in a while for the Thai aviation sector, which has been reeling this year after air-safety downgrades from both the International Civil Aviation Organization and US Federal Aviation Administration.
While last week's FAA downgrade dealt a powerful blow to the country's international image, it, so far, has had no material impact, as no Thai carriers currently serve North America.
The same would not have been true had the EASA slapped Thailand with a ban or restrictions. Thai Airways Thai Airways International and charter carrier Mjets both serve the European market with the Europe responsible for an estimated 30% of THAI's revenue.
Europe is Thailand's second largest tourism market, with the number of European tourists accounting for about 18% of total international visitors this year. About four million Europeans visit Thailand every year with about a quarter of those flying THAI.
EASA visited Thailand earlier this year and on Wednesday the Department of Civil Aviation signed an agreement with the agency that will see EASA experts help Thailand improve its air-safety oversight.