Thai Airways’ turbulence at Suvarnabhumi: Transport minister threatens contract termination

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Transport Minister Suriya Jungroongreangkit issued a warning to Thai Airways International (THAI) following a series of complaints about subpar ground services at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Speaking after a pivotal meeting with airport service operators, Suriya unveiled a roadmap for dramatic improvements or contractual consequences.

“The ministry has been inundated with grievances regarding the dismal quality of ground services provided by several airlines and businesses.”

In a bid to address the mounting concerns, a high-stakes meeting was convened with key players, namely THAI Ground and Bangkok Flight Services.

Revealing the root causes, the transport minister attributed the service quality debacle to a dire shortage of adequate equipment and a revolving door of underqualified staff. With patience wearing thin, he delivered a clear ultimatum:

“Shape up or face premature termination of contracts, particularly Thai Airways, which still has a staggering 12 years left on its tenure.”

Expedite improvements

In a bid to expedite improvements, Transport Minister Suriya disclosed a short-term strategy involving the enlistment of Airports of Thailand (AOT) Ground Aviation Services. Suriya stressed the imperative for THAI to meet service standards within its contractual timeframe.

“The ministry will closely monitor operations monthly.”

Despite urging airlines to utilise the SAT-1 terminal during taxiway repairs, reluctance persists, primarily due to apprehensions regarding luggage handling. The transport minister underscored the pivotal role of enhanced airport management, especially in ground services and luggage handling, to bolster Thailand’s position as a premier aviation hub.

Echoing this sentiment, AOT director Keerati Kijmanawat unveiled plans to onboard a third ground services operator to accommodate the anticipated surge in flights, slated for late April bidding. With current daily flights hovering around 1,000, a significant uptick since November, Keerati reiterated the SAT-1 terminal’s capacity to handle up to 400 flights daily, despite its current underutilisation, reported Bangkok Post.

Furthermore, Suriya distanced the ministry from any involvement in THAI’s procurement of 45 Boeing 787 jets, citing the carrier’s independent operation under a rehabilitation plan. While acknowledging reservations about the procurement, he quashed rumours of ministry authorisation, emphasising the need for due diligence.

Recent financial indicators signal a glimmer of hope for THAI, with a noteworthy profit surge in the second quarter of 2023, marking a two-decade high. The carrier’s trajectory towards recovery, underpinned by a court-approved rehabilitation plan, suggests a potential turnaround from its staggering liabilities, amounting to 200 billion baht as of September 2020.

Aviation NewsBangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

Related Articles