Thai Airways International (THAI) has delayed the launch of its brand new Airbus A350 on the Bangkok-Melbourne route.
Following a series of short-haul services to Chiang Mai, the Australian city was due to become the first long-haul destination for the new twin-aisle aircraft on 16 September 2016. But THAI has now said that it the new aircraft will not be cleared by Australian authorities in time for the launch.
“Due to additional inspections and requirements from Australian authorities on THAI’s newest aircraft type A350XWB, the approval process is not able to be completed in time for THAI to operate the maiden flight by 16 September,” said THAI’s president, Charamporn Jotikasthira.
The airline noted that Australia’s previous approval of its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was “much shorter”.
Since then however, Thailand’s aviation safety standards have been subject to international scrutiny, following an unsuccessful ICAO audit and the downgrading of the country’s FAA rating. The lower category two FAA rating, when applied to US routes, would prevent changes of aircraft.
THAI said that it now plans to continue operating the A350 on domestic routes to Chiang Mai and Phuket until the end of October, by which time it hopes to receive clearance for the new aircraft.