Transport Minister Prajin Juntong will implement "special measures" to pre-empt moves by foreign countries to ban Thai airlines due to “significant safety concerns” cited by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
ACM Prajin admitted on Monday morning that problems resulting from concerns by ICAO about the operation standards of the Department of Civil Aviation could escalate. He referred to the decision by Japanese aviation authorities to block Thai-registered airlines from adding flights or changing aircraft types next month.
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The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau apparently reacted to the ICAO's concerns and authorities are worried that others, including South Korea and Singapore, may follow suit during next month's Songkran festival when air travel typically soars.
"Dominoes start to fall and we must think what to do to delay the interval between dominoes to cushion the impact," ACM Prajin said.
The special measures will be announced soon, he added.
Meanwhile, Gen Prayut said Monday he might use powers available to him under Section 44 of the interim constitution to resolve the problem.
The National Council for Peace and Order boss did not explain how Section 44 could be used or the advantage it would have over existing bureaucratic or legislative processes, but the provision of the interim charter does give the junta leader authority to legalise changes immediately.
Gen Prayut said he will form a special committee headed by the transport minister to fix flaws at DCA to satisfy ICAO, with one solution being that the committee will hire foreign experts to ensure certification standards for Thai airlines.
Section 44 could allow for committee formation and action faster than under normal Thai bureaucratic procedures.
The ICAO specified that safety concerns it found in a January audit dealt mainly with air operator certification, issuing of operation specifications and hazardous goods transportation certification. It also objected to the DCA's two-year implementation of a corrective action plan that would separate its roles as air transport regulator and operator of 28 regional airports.
Gen Prayut admitted that Thailand has no one to blame but itself for the current crisis, but noted that it normally could take considerable time to amend of relevant laws and regulations and train personnel responsible for aviation certification.
The prime minister also said he ordered concerned organisations to compensate people who already reserved air tickets on banned flights.