Nok Air gets yellow card

Nok Air gets yellow card

Nok Air CEO Patee Sarasin (right) gives the thumbs-up after receiving a warning from Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith at the Transport Ministry in Bangkok on Tuesday. Its management was also ordered to present solutions in the event of future strikes in three days. (Photo by Wisit Thamngern)
Nok Air CEO Patee Sarasin (right) gives the thumbs-up after receiving a warning from Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith at the Transport Ministry in Bangkok on Tuesday. Its management was also ordered to present solutions in the event of future strikes in three days. (Photo by Wisit Thamngern)

The government has warned Nok Air it could lose its licence if it allows passengers to be affected by its problems.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the cabinet ordered the Transport Ministry to meet Nok Air chief executive Patee Sarasin to give the warning.

The move followed Nok Air pilots' strike on Sunday which had called off nine flights and stranded hundreds of travellers at Don Mueang airport.

If such an incident recurs, Nok Air's licence will be suspended and a third offence would result in the licence being terminated, Maj Gen Sansern said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Tuesday that Nok Air’s CEO had shown up late at Don Mueang after the strike although airline staff and officials should be on hand to help passengers and take swift responses.

He also said it was unacceptable for pilots to strike in protest against a measure aimed at improving air safety standards.

Deputy Transport Minister Ormsin Chivapruck told the cabinet that Mr Patee had not attended a government meeting with airline executives on Monday because he had been involved in filming an advertisement in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan.

To prevent a repeat of the incident, the Transport Ministry would require all airlines to have partners to serve their passengers during strikes, he said.

Besides, they would have to work out risk-management and emergency-response plans within a month, he said.

The deputy minister also said the striking Nok Air pilots had tendered their sick leaves only an hour before their flight schedules on Sunday and his ministry would also hear their side of the story in addition to management information.

At the Transport Ministry on Tuesday, Mr Patee said the strike was caused by management’s decision to have the pilots choose to be either executives or pilots, a safety measure aimed at separating duties for more balanced supervision.

At present, some of its pilots concurrently serve as executives.

He said Nok Air had 130 pilots and only eight had problems with the measure.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said after the meeting with Mr Patee on Tuesday he had told Nok Air, as well as other airlines, to be more proactive in the wake of crises.

"I must ask all airlines to cooperate. Their top executives or CEOs must be in the field immediately or authorise their representatives to solve problems at hand or explain procedures to passengers. I told Nok Air to solve this," Mr Arkhom said.

Following the incident, the airline cut its flight frequencies by 15% and would recruit about 30 new pilots in two months.


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