THAI safety concerns extend to EU

THAI safety concerns extend to EU

Europe has quietly begun to vet safety standards of Thai Airways International (THAI) aeroplanes that fly to its airports over concerns about Thailand's aviation safety standards.

The inspections, which cover not only the aeroplanes themselves but certificates and licences of flight personnel, have so far been conducted at four European cities including Frankfurt and Stockholm, according to industry executives with knowledge of the matter.

The physical inspections of THAI aircraft, which are likely to expand to more European cities served by the Thai flag carrier, may lead to the blacklisting of Thai airlines.

Those European countries were reacting to the designation by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of Thailand for having a "significant safety concern" in a global alert that was issued on March 20.

Adding insult to injury is the likely move by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry out an audit of the Thai aviation industry, according to executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Until yesterday, Europe has not taken further action besides carrying out inspections of THAI aeroplanes that are operating into their airports.

A senior THAI executive yesterday confirmed the airline, which operates four flights a week to Los Angeles from Bangkok via Incheon, South Korea, has so far not received any notification from the FAA or the EU.

Both the EU and the FAA have not yet reacted to the ICAO's negative review in the way Japan, South Korea and China has.

"Fortunately, we [THAI] have not received any more responses from the EU and no word from the FAA, so we're keeping our fingers crossed," the executive told the Bangkok Post.

Japan, South Korea and China have blocked new charter and scheduled flights from Thailand to their countries.

That means no additional frequencies and new routes to their countries are allowed, while existing services are permitted but no change in aircraft type can be made.

Furthermore, Japan, South Korea, China and Singapore now subject aircraft operated by Thai airlines to their countries and flight personnel to exhaustive physical inspections at their airports.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore yesterday began inspecting Thai aeroplanes operating to Singapore.

It not only gave a long list of inspections of the exterior and interior condition of the aircraft but also checked all certificates, crew licences and technical logbooks.

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