Chartered flights ban to Japan, South Korea and China worries PM

The banning of chartered flights from Thailand to Japan,  South Korea and China has worried Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on safety standard on the country’s aviation safety and prompted to oversee the matter by himself.

He chaired the meeting at the Transport Ministry today and ordered the setting up of a special committee to solve the problem.

At the meeting the prime minister stressed that the problem of Thailand not passing the aviation safety standard under the ICAO has been a long standing, especially now that the annual flights have been increased from 300,000 to 600,000 a year.

He blamed understaff problem saying the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) only has 13 aviation safety inspectors, while also saying the political sector has been overlooking the issue.

But General Prayut emphasized that his government would now solve such problem thoroughly and seriously, where he is willing to exercise his power under Section 44 of the interim Constitution to set up a special committee to improve the current law concerning the civil aviation.

He said more specialists would be hired, including foreigners, to help improve the DCA’s flaws and inefficiency, so that the safety aviation of the country could meet that of the ICAO.

The premier further added that if the move is still inadequate for the ICAO, more measures would have to be implemented, though that must follow safety regulations.

He recalled his meetings with his Japanese counterpart and South Korean president, and  said both sides have agreed to take the matter into consideration.

He said Thailand also has to listen to the suggestions from other countries as well.

“We can’t only think of our economy or how well this could do for us, but we must also think about the responsibility we have to uphold. We can’t go ahead and ignore other’s opinions, since there are many flaws in our aviation system. If something went wrong, we would be taking full responsibility for it,” he said.

Meanwhile Transport Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong ensured that the eight issues outlined by the ICAO, including licensing flaw, the transportation of hazardous goods, as well as the faults in inspections of various aviation safety processes, would be raised as national agenda, where two committees would be set up to oversee the matter.

The first or administrative committee would be chaired by the transport minister himself and would comprise executives and concerned experts on the ICAO’s aviation safety standard.

The second committee would follow the DCA’s regulations and report the progresses back to the ICAO every 15 days.

He said he is certain all issues could be completely solved within 2-8 months’ time.

Meanwhile cancellation of chartered and extra flights from Thailand to Japan, South Korea and China during the summer season is affecting around 300-400 flights on a daily basis and has reduced the number of passengers by 150,000.

Thailand’s national flag carrier, Thai Airways or THAI affirmed that it would continue all flights to Japan as stated in its summer 2015 airline schedule, as all its flights to every country have passed the standard clearance.

However, it said only two chartered flights to Japan’s Komatsu and Hiroshima on 11th and 15th April 2015 have been affected and canceled by the move from the three countries.

Five airlines that have been affected by the recent move, on the other hand, are scheduled to meet with the DCA director general tomorrow.

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Transport Minister fears domino effect from Japan’s ban on Thai chartered flights 30 March 2015

Japan’s chartered flight ban from Thailand is hurting tourism business 30 March 2015