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Senior transport officials to discuss aviation crisis with ICAO, Germany and Australia



Senior transport officials to discuss aviation crisis with ICAO, Germany and Australia | Thaiger


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Senior transport officials to discuss aviation crisis with ICAO, Germany and Australia
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: In a bid to ease the country’s current aviation woes, the Transport Ministry is seeking help from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and preparing a team to visit Germany and Australia, while South Korea decided yesterday to temporarily allow Jet Asia Airways to operate charter flights to the country.

Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong yesterday said his team – led by the deputy minister and the Civil Aviation Department director-general – was scheduled to meet with the ICAO president in Canada from April 20-22 to discuss the situation concerning aviation safety in Thailand and the impact of air restrictions and bans imposed by several countries in Asia.

“The ministry is now drawing up an aviation action plan, which will be completed this week and will be sent to the ICAO, airlines and aviation authorities in the countries we plan to visit,” he said.

The meeting with the head of the ICAO is expected to help ease restrictions and a ban on Asian air travel due to significant safety concerns in Japan and South Korea.

The ban resulted in five airlines registered in Thailand being unable to operate charter flights, extend new routes or increase flight frequencies into Japan and South Korea during the summer season, which ends in September.

ACM Prajin said South Korea’s Office of Civil Aviation had, however, given temporary permission to Jet Asia Airways to operate charter flights to the country, effective through April 15.

The temporary permission is not extended to Asia Atlantic Airlines and NokScoot, although the two carriers have asked to be allowed to change their charter-flight service to scheduled operations, he added.

“The three airlines had planned a number of charter flights to South Korea throughout April, carrying 22,119 passengers,” said the minister.

As to scheduled flights by Thai Airways International and Thai AirAsia X, the South Korean authorities said they may relax the rules if the carriers planned to increase the number of flights.

During talks with South Korea last week, the ministry asked the country to reconsider its position and grant special permission for Nokscoot and Thai AirAsia X to operate charter flights into Korea, as the two Thai-based carriers had shared foreign ownership – with Singaporean and Malaysian businesses, respectively.

The transport minister said his team was scheduled to meet with the aviation authorities in China yesterday and today, as well as visiting Germany and Australia after the Songkran Festival for similar discussions, despite those countries not having issued restrictions such as those imposed by Japan.

Meanwhile, Tony Tyler, director-general and chief executive officer of the International Air Travel Association (IATA), said it was not looking good for Southeast Asian travellers as two of the region’s biggest countries – Indonesia and Thailand – were in the spotlight for safety and other lapses.

“To ensure safe flights and comfort, and to realise the full benefits of plans to liberalize the region’s air travel market, Indonesia and Thailand must fix problems that have been highlighted by global bodies,” said an IATA expert.

As part of plans for Asean to operate as a single aviation market, which Singapore has been strongly pushing for, all 10 member nations, except for the Philippines, now allow neighboring carriers to fly without any restrictions to their capital cities.

Almost all restrictions have also been lifted for flights to other cities.

Alan Tan, professor of aviation law at the National University of Singapore, said the problems of inadequate infrastructure – airports, runways, crewing, safety and air traffic control – affected many countries in the region.

— Phuket Gazette Editors


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