ICAO has listed Thailand as a “red flag” country following an unsatisfactory response to a safety audit earlier this year.
Despite comments from the Transport Minister Prajin Juntong last week suggesting ICAO had agreed to postpone the downgrade pending new legislation, the organization last week raised Thailand's national aviation oversight rating to a full “significant safety concern” rating.
ICAO said this does not indicate specific safety problems with airlines or infrastructure providers, but rather that the Thai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) is “not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of applicable ICAO standards,” ICAO said. In July, FAA also plans to audit Thailand's certification processes.
The impact of the full ICAO downgrade on the Thai tourist industry could be “colossal,” a Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) said earlier this year.
In March, Japan and Korea imposed a freeze on new charter routes to their national destinations, and more recently Australia, China, Cambodia and Singapore have also imposed restrictive conditions on some Thai airlines flying into their airports.
This has impacted several low-cost operators including NokScoot, Thai AirAsia X and Jet Asia Airways –which were looking to open new schedules, but has not so far not affected Thai flag carrier Thai Airways International.
Thai Airways has sought to utilize outside, ICAO-sanctioned inspection procedures to keep open access for its aircraft flying to other jurisdictions. “Thai Airways has had to rely on other states’ civil aviation authorities to provide oversight for where Thai Airways operates,” it said in a statement.
However, the carrier has promised it will open its Thai-based facilities and procedures to other states’ civil aviation authorities for audit in the near future.