After the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Thai Civil Aviation to category II last week, Thai authorities are anxious about the coming decision on December 15 of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA). Experts say that until now the EASA always followed the FAA decision. This happend in the past when the US agency downgraded Indonesia and Philippines air transport authorities.
But in contrary to the FAA decision, a negative statement from European civil aviation authorities would have far more consequences for the Thai civil aviation. Of course, Thai Airways International would be the first victim of any downgrading. Thailand national carrier represents 47% of all monthly non-stop air seats capacity to Europe, flying to 11 destinations. Although it is almost certain that Thai Airways will be excluded from a ban on Thai carriers, such a step would have negative consequences for the entire Thai air transport industry.
A ban of Thai carriers for insufficient safety will have a far more negative consequence for tour operators and travel agencies as European insurances will stop covering clients from TO or individual travellers if they take a Thai registered carrier. Although only Thai Airways International is currently flying to Europe, a ban would then eliminate other Thai carriers from the list of European based TO, as they might not take the financial risk of covering themselves passengers in the case of a problem. It could also put on hold any code share or interline agreement. It could particularly affect regional carrier Bangkok Airways.
Thailand seems now to seriously understand the issue of such a potential EU ruling against Thai carriers. A meeting over the week end with all airlines and the Ministry of Transport translated into stricter controls on personal in charge of checking airlines safety. The government is now looking at hiring foreign experts to examine the certifications of airlines in line with ICAO standards. If the government and Thailand Civil Aviation remain commited and serious, the ban from the FAA and ICAO could be lifted by the summer 2016.