Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Korbkarn Wattanavrangkul yesterday chaired a press conference alongside Thai tourism industry executives, voicing confidence that Thai airlines have proven safety records in flight operations and that the Royal Thai Government is committed to aviation safety standards of Thai-registered carriers.
Kobkarn said, “We are confident that the Royal Thai Government has been addressing issues and concerns over Thailand’s aviation safety standards, raised by the International Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). At the same time, we would like to reiterate our confidence in the safety standards of Thai airlines.
“Thai airlines including Thai Airways International (THAI), Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia are well prepared with risk and crisis management strategy and business continuity plan that set forth their response to crisis and allow them to quickly resume operations,” she added.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn cited data from THAI, saying that, “The national carrier has a seat capacity for 41.3 million passengers for 2015, up 17 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, from January 1 to November 10, this year, Thailand already welcomed about 25 million international arrivals or equivalent to about 60 percent of THAI’s seat capacity, leaving another adequate 40 percent of seats for the anticipated high demand during the New Year holiday period. TAT has also been working with other airlines to entice tourists from secondary source markets to visit Thailand.”
In response to FAA’s announcement, Thai carriers said the move would not affect their operations. THAI reaffirms that it is operating on par with the international aviation safety standards, certified by the International Air Transport Association’ Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) every other year. In addition, THAI has plans to raise its standard to first-class level under the ‘Safety Beyond Compliance’ framework.
THAI only offers air travel to US destinations through codeshare agreements with their partner airlines. On the other hand, Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia have neither direct flight nor codeshare to the USA. As a result, the FAA’s announcement will have minimal impact on Thai airlines in relation to the US market. Thai tourism industry executives deemed the move to downgrade Thailand’s aviation safety standards by ICAO and FAA as a wake-up call for concerned local authorities to improve the country’s tourism and aviation industries in the long run. They said that through close collaboration and good teamwork, Thailand would be able to solve the issues and overcome yet another obstacle to the thriving tourism industry.
On the tourism front, Kobkarn said, “With the support and teamwork from every related agencies the 2015 looked set to be another record year for Thailand.”
In addition, Yutthasak mentioned, “As the country counts down to the New Year holiday season, coupled with a range for tourism activities and events during December 2015 and January 2016, it is anticipated that the number of international visitors during the two-month period will grow by 15 percent.”
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