Thailand avoids European flight ban

Thai Airways will be able to continue operating to EU destinations (photo by Nutkamol komolvanich)
Thai Airways will be able to continue operating to EU destinations (photo by Nutkamol komolvanich)

Thailand will not be placed on the European Union’s aviation blacklist, despite not meeting International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards in a recent audit.

While the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has not released the final report of its recent Thai inspection, its updated ‘EU Air Safety List’, which was released on Thursday, does not include Thailand among the restricted countries.

It did say however, that Thailand’s aviation safety standards would be “closely monitored” in future.

“No air carriers from Thailand were added to the Air Safety List at this time,” a statement from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility & Transport confirmed. “The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) are willing to continue to work with the Thai authorities to enhance aviation safety in the country.

“The Commission and EASA will however closely monitor future developments and, if the protection of air passengers against safety risks so requires, the Commission could then propose to include one or more air carriers from Thailand in the Air Safety List,” it added.

The ruling means that, for now at least, Thai carriers will be able to continue operating flights to EU destinations. As such, Thai Airways International’s flight schedules to London, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Brussels, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Stockholm, Zurich, Milan and Rome remain unaffected. THAI is the only Thai carrier that currently flies to Europe.

THAI issued its own statement yesterday, saying that is “prepared to support and cooperate with the Civil Aviation Administration of Thailand (CAAT)… to raise safety standards.”

The ruling will come as a big relief for the national carrier, and for Thai government. Last month the country was downgraded to a Category 2 rating by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), banning Thai carriers from launching new flights to the US. That decision followed an unsuccessful ICAO audit in July.

No Thai airline currently flies to the US, but a ban on European flights would have been potentially devastating to THAI, which has already suffered huge losses this year.

The EU’s latest blacklist also offers a reprieve for Kazakhstan’s national carrier Air Astana, which had previously been operating to the EU under restrictions.

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