Thai flights banned in three countries as PM invokes powers to address safety record
|21/08/2019||Posted by admin under 南京夜网||
Bangkok: Thailand’s junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha has invoked the powers of a dictator to address a poor airline safety rating that has seen Japan, China and South Korea ban Thai carriers from adding new flights from his country.
More than 150,000 passengers will be affected by the bans during the April to May tourist high season as airlines including Thai AirAsia X – a joint venture with Malaysia’s low-cost carrier AirAsia, Nokscoot and Asia Atlantic Airline cancel extra planned flights.
Mr Prayuth told reporters he needed to use special powers to bypass time-consuming legislative approvals for improving safety procedures on Thai carriers.
The junta that toppled Thailand’s democratically-elected government last year has been trying to limit damage to the country’s airline industry after an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the aviation watch-dog, raised safety concerns, primarily related to air operator certification procedures.
Mr Prayuth said he will use powers written into law after he seized power to set-up a panel that will speed up a restructuring of the industry and change laws and budget allocations.
He said the aviation watchdog had expressed concerns about Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) for a long time as the country’s air traffic increased to 600,000 flights a year.
“What happened? There are only 12 DCA officers responsible for the flights,” he said.
Mr Prayuth said Thai aviation officials had persistently raised problems but politicians had not solved them.
“This is our mistake and we have to concede that we violated the rules and we must find ways to address the problems,” he said.
Thailand’s transport minister Prajin Juntong, a former air force chief, said he was concerned the bans may spread to other countries, further hitting the country’s tourist industry that accounts for more than 10 percent of Thailand’s economy.
“Unless this is solved quickly, the problems can create a domino affect,” he said.
Mr Prajin said the Department of Civil Aviation proposed an action plan to deal with the safety concerns on March 2 but it was rejected by the International Civil Aviation Organisation which insisted a two year proposed time frame was too long.
He said a new plan will be submitted to the organisation that will see changes implemented within eight months.
The ICAO first flagged issues in Thailand’s airline industry in 2005 which according to a report by Watson, Farley and Williams, an international law firm with a commercial transport practice, included personnel licensing and training, airworthiness assessment and certification and airline operations oversight.
Japan’s ban will prevent established carriers like Thai Airways International from adding flights to Japan.
But Thai Airways said in a statement that all its current flights remain operational although two charter flights may be affected.
Mr Prayuth’s decision to invoke powers under Section 44 of an interim constitution has prompted concerns by some human rights groups, politicians, academics and legal experts.
They give the former army general “powers to make any order to disrupt or suppress regardless of the legislative executive or judicial force of that order.”
Martial law that gives sweeping powers to the military remains in place across the country.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.