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Charter flights by five airlines hit amid aviation safety concerns

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Charter flights by five airlines hit amid aviation safety concerns
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: AT least five airlines operating from Thailand to Japan, China and South Korea, and expected to carry about 150,000 passengers, will be affected in the wake of safety concerns expressed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Somchai Piputwat, director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation, said the five affected airlines are NokScoot, Thai Airways International, Asia Atlantic, Thai AirAsia X, and Jet Asia.

The airlines were set to carry about 120,000 passengers to and from Japan during this and next month. A further 30,000 passengers were expected to fly between Thailand and South Korea and China.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday ordered the department to resolve the problem within one month by asking foreign organizations and experts for help.

Mr Somchai said the five airlines had planned to operate charter flights to Japan during April and May with NokScoot carrying 27,000 passengers, Thai Airways International 10,000, Asia Atlantic 3,600, Thai AirAsia X 77,000, and the rest with Jet Asia.

He said a further 30,000 passengers would be affected on routes to China and South Korea.

Piya Yodmani, chief executive officer of NokScoot, said the airline would pause the 44 charter flights set to fly to Osaka and Tokyo over the next few months and would transfer 20,000 passengers to THAI.

The airline expected to lose about 400 million baht from the cancellations. It would affect its 120-strong aircrew and 30 pilots and co-pilots. NokScoot may also suspend a plan to operate charter flights to South Korea at the end of this year.

Thai AirAsia has witnessed a limited impact from the ICAO’s safety concerns, as flights to China are operating as usual. The airline operates 21 daily flights to 14 destinations in China.

Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive officer, said that Thai AirAsia and Thai AirAsiaX have no plan to operate chartered flights to China, Japan and South Korea. The impact is limited to its planned scheduled flights to Sapporo in Japan.

He said the airline had secured Japan’s permission to operate scheduled flights to Sapporo from May 1 to June 30. He said the permission followed the Thai Civil Aviation Department’s request to the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB).

Regarding tickets bought for travel after that period, he said customers have three options – take a full refund, postpone the travel date or change the flights to Tokyo or Osaka instead.

To date, the airline is maintaining its target of serving 14.5 million passengers this year and to achieve an 83 per cent load factor.

The JCAB recently announced that from March 29 it no longer allowed any Thailand-based airline to operate charter flights, to apply for any additional flights, add any new route to Japan or permit any aircraft type.

The action was in response to the ICAO expressing significant safety concerns during audit of Thailand’s civil aviation standards.

AirAsia X continues to the serve Bangkok-Tokyo route with twice-a-day flights, and daily flights on the Bangkok-Osaka and Bangkok-Seoul routes.

Mr Tassapon said only the Bangkok-Sapporo route would be affected, as the airline planned to operate this from May 1 onwards as a scheduled flight. The airline had received permission from the JCAB to be open for sales, according to document No 5470/5471 dated January 15, 2015.

Thai AirAsia X, in June 2014, began direct services from Bangkok’s Don Mueang to Tokyo Narita followed by Bangkok Don Mueang-Osaka.

Charamporn Jotikasthira, president of Thai Airways International, said the ICAO ban did not impact regular commercial flights to Japan, and all THAI regular commercial flights will continue to operate as scheduled, as per the previously approved 2015 Summer Traffic Programme. However, the suspension would hit two of THAI’s chartered flights – to Komatsu and to Hiroshima, in April.

He said THAI would explain the situation to China, South Korea and countries in Europe. He said Singapore and Vietnam are closely watching the situation in Thailand but there has been no reaction as of yet.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Public Health Minister gets first Covid-19 vaccine shot in Thailand

Caitlin Ashworth

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Public Health Minister gets first Covid-19 vaccine shot in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook/ Anutin Charnvirakul

Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who was jabbed with China’s Sinovac vaccine. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the prime minister’s injection was postponed. Doctors advised Prayut to get the AstraZeneca vaccine due to his age. Prayut is 66 and doctors say the Sinovac vaccine has been declared safe for people ages 18 to 59.

Both shipments of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines arrived last week, the AstraZeneca vaccine still needs to be endorsed by the Medical Science Department. Anutin says the pharmaceutical company has not submitted documents and samples needed for the endorsement.

Along with Anutin, a number of other government officials and health professionals were vaccinated against the coronavirus. Anutin’s shot was administered by Thailand’s top virologist Yong Poovorawan.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Royal Thai Police accused of “ticket” promotion system to buy senior positions

Caitlin Ashworth

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Royal Thai Police accused of “ticket” promotion system to buy senior positions | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The Royal Thai Police are being accused of using so-called “elephant tickets” to buy their way into promotions and pay their way up the police force’s chain of command. The corruption among the police force and the buying of positions without meeting the requirements for a promotion has been a longtime problem, according to the Bangkok Post.

The “elephant ticket” issue was recently brought to light by an opposition MP at a censure debate who said it fast tracked the promotion system and allowed some people who were unqualified and undeserving to raise their rank. Some Thais have protested the “elephant ticket.” Many gathered in front of the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok last week, including one person who dressed up as an elephant.

At the censure debate on February 19, Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome called out PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the Police Commission overseeing the Royal Thai Police, and said the prime minister allowed the “elephant ticket” promotions. Prayut later said there were problems within the police force and that he would handle it.

Police who want a promotion need a ticket, which is basically just a reference or a stamp of approval from a senior officer or even a politician or business person. To get an “elephant ticket,” some can pay for the ticket. A source told the Post that positions for police superintendents cost between 5 to 10 million baht.

Others can get a ticket by doing favours for their superior or even just serving their superior for a long time, sources told the Bangkok Post. The higher the position a senior officer has, the more tickets they have to give out.

To read the full special report by the Bangkok Post, click HERE.

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Crime

Woman talks about the life of a Thai “pretty” after model’s death

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman talks about the life of a Thai “pretty” after model’s death | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Instagram/ wawa_manika

Following the news of a model who died after working as a hostess at a Bangkok party, Thai media spoke with a woman, known in Thailand as a “pretty,” about what it’s like to work in the lucrative, yet shady Thai model entertainment industry where many work as hostesses at parties and events that often involve alcohol, drugs and sex work.

“Miss Cake” told the Thai news outlet Daily News that pretties are sent to parties by “modelling agencies.” The parties are even categorized depending on if drugs or sex are involved. Apparently the parties are either “En-Up,” “En-V” or just “En” for entertainment. En-Up means drugs are involved, while En-V means the pretties will offer sexual services. Other pretties work at promotional events like auto shows. Since nightclubs and other entertainment venues in Bangkok have been closed due to the pandemic, many of the parties are now held at private homes.

If a pretty is working at an En-Up party, Miss Cake says that means there will be ecstasy, known as “khanom,” the Thai word for a dessert or snack. She says good “khanom” shipped from overseas costs around 900 to 1,000 baht while the poor quality, Thai-made drugs cost 500 baht. Just about every pretty takes drugs, she says. If mixed with ketamine, Miss Cake says it can be dangerous.

Daily News spoke with Miss Cake following the death of a 33 year old Witchayaporn “Wawa” Wisetsombat who worked died in a hospital after working as a hostess at a party in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district. She had been hired by a modelling agency to serve drinks at a private party. Her younger sister told the Bangkok Post that Wawa was a product presenter and never sold sex or used narcotics. Doctors told the Post Wawa died from respiratory and blood system failure. They are still waiting for the results for a toxicology test.

The death of another model back in 2019 shed light on the abuse and danger many pretties face in the industry. 25 year old Thitima “Lunlabelle” Noraphanpiphat died from “extreme alcohol intoxication,” according to an autopsy report. Her dead body was found in the lobby of a Bangkok condominium. 6 people were found guilty for involvement in Lunlabelle’s death.

Abuse is common in the industry and many women working as pretties are often pressured into drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. The work of pretties is looked down upon in Thai society. Due to the stigma, many due not file complaints when they are abused.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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