Pilots against foreigners in cockpits

The cockpit of a Boeing 737-9 aircraft in September 2021. (Photo: Bloomberg)
The cockpit of a Boeing 737-9 aircraft in September 2021. (Photo: Bloomberg)

The Thai Pilots Association is strongly against a government proposal to temporarily ease restrictions on foreign pilots flying with Thai carriers.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Thursday that one major problem for the tourism sector has been the slow resumption of flights. A post-pandemic personnel shortage has been one of the reasons cited by airlines worldwide.

The government has already asked airlines to increase flights to help the recovery of tourism, he said.

Some airlines would like the government to consider allowing foreign pilots to fly Thai aircraft, as the job is currently reserved for Thais.

“We will discuss this issue with the Ministry of Labour to seek a possible solution, including lifting this restriction on a temporary basis,” Mr Srettha said.

Teerawat Angkasakulkiat, president of the pilots’ group, said the association disagrees with the idea of allowing foreign pilots to work for Thai carriers.

During the pandemic, airlines scaled down their operations, forcing them to furlough a number of Thai pilots and freeze employment of fresh graduates, he said.

Mr Teerawat said Thai student pilots face difficulties getting jobs as they don’t have the experience to apply for foreign carriers.

The association found some experienced pilots who were laid off during the pandemic have not returned to the cockpit, as the fleets of some airlines have yet to fully recover.

“Over a thousand student pilots are still unemployed. I think we should prioritise them. There is no need to open this job to foreigners,” said Mr Teerawat.

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  • carrier: a company that carries goods or passengers from one place to another, especially by air - บริษัทขนส่ง (โดยเฉพาะสายการบิน)
  • cockpit: enclosed space for a pilot in an airplane - ที่นั่งคนขับ
  • furlough (verb): to tell workers not to come to work for a period of time, usually because there is not enough money to pay them - พักงาน
  • laid off: when someone to lose their job, usually because there is not enough work for them to do - การปลดคนงาน
  • personnel: the people who are employed in a company, organization or one of the armed forces - บุคลากร, เจ้าหน้าที่, พนักงาน
  • reserve: kept for use for something or someone - ที่จัดสรรไว้ สำรอง
  • restriction: a rule, action or situation that limits or controls someone or something - การจำกัด, การควบคุม
  • resumption (noun): the act of beginning something again after it has stopped - การเริ่มต้นใหม่
  • shortage (noun): when there is not enough of something - การขาดแคลน
  • temporary: done or used for only a limited period of time, i.e., not permanent - ชั่วคราว

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