Thailand’s first low-cost airline founder dies

Thailand’s first low-cost airline founder has died at the age of 66. Udom Tantiprasongchai, who passed away yesterday, started his business in 1994 with Cambodia International Airlines. The airline began operating regular flights from Phnom Penh to Phuket before expanding to other areas in Southeast Asia.

After his airline licences were revoked by the Cambodian government, he started Orient Thai Airlines in Thailand where he introduced flights between cities that didn’t pass through Don Mueang Airport. Later on, the airlines added Don Mueang to its destinations but claimed the government was blocking access to Thai airports to protect Thai Airways International.

Then, in 2012, Udom set up Thailand’s first low-budget airline, One-Two-Go, as the government opened up to new competition. That airline fought with other low-cost airlines who were accused of dumping air tickets. Tragedy was not far off, as a flight from Don Mueang crash-landed at Phuket Airport, killing 90 people on board, with most of them being foreigners.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand revoked Orient Thai’s licence in 2018 due to its financial problems with other airlines. Such issues included a court in Paris sentencing Udom in 2019, in absentia, to 4 years in jail and fining him 2.5 million baht (at the time) over the Phuket crash which resulted in family members of 9 French passengers suing Udom. But he was never detained and never responded to the ruling.

On January 5, 2021 the Royal Gazette published an announcement declaring Orient Thai bankrupt and ordered the Legal Execution Department to seize its remaining assets to pay its debtors.

Udom’s cause of death has not been announced. A message posted on @aviaknowledge Twitter account thanked Udom for his contributions to the aviation industry.

“Thank you for your contribution to the Thai sky and Thai aviation industry.”

The chanting rite for him will be held at Wat Depsirin from Sunday to Saturday at 6pm. The cremation will take place on January 24 at 5pm.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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