Japan allows Thai chartered flights two months
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Japan allows Thai chartered flights two months

Thai AirAsia X confirms the airline can operate its new scheduled flight to Sapporo until June 30. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
Thai AirAsia X confirms the airline can operate its new scheduled flight to Sapporo until June 30. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) has approved the operation of charter flights into Japanese airports by Thai-registered airlines for another two months, until the end of May, the business paper <i>Than Sethakit Online</i> reported.

However, Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) issued a notification to its customers saying the airline has approval to operate its new scheduled flight to Sapporo until the end of June, offering customers flight rerouting or a full refund after that.

The Than Sethakit report said the JCAB decided not to halt new chartered flights from Thailand from April 1, as earlier announced, because the two months of April and May are the high season for travelling for people of both countries.

JCAB representatives would come to Thailand sign a memorandum of understanding on Friday.

Japanese aviation authorities requested Thailand submit a plan to improve "Significant Safety Concerns" (SSC) no later than May. The DCA must also reassess the standard of airlines seeking permission to enter Japan again, to ensure they meet international standards.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has expressed concerns over the standard of safety certification of Thai aircraft by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA). 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said his government would ask the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to help verify airline certification standards in Thailand within the next month. He also plans to exercise his power under Section 44 of the interim constitution to speed up the process in Thailand.

Afterwards, the DCA would be restructured and have more staff to improve the certification process, he said.

TAAX chief executive Nadda Buranasiri said the airline’s Bangkok-Sapporo route would be affected by the JCAB’s announcement. The airline would be able to offer a service on this route for only two months , from May 1 to June 30.

Passengers booked on flights to Sapporo after June 30 can be rerouted, using other services, or get a full refund. 

TAAX’s other flights, to Tokyo’s Narita and Osaka’s Kansai airports, are not affected and can operate as normal. Its service to Inchon airport in Seoul, South Korea, will also operate, according to Mr Nadda. 

Thai AirAsia chief executive officer Tassapol Bijleveld said the airline has no chartered services and its Sapporo flights are a scheduled service approved for 60-day operation in summer. 

The airline's 21 daily flights to 10 cities in China are also scheduled flights and not affected, he said.   

Department of Civil Aviation director-general Somchai Piputvut said on Tuesday that seven Thai airlines will ask the International Civil Aviation Organisation to check their safety standards directly, pending the planned improvements at the DCA.

For the time being, the airlines would try to redistribute all their passengers to regular flights, he said.

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