Accessibility links

Breaking News

EU Keeps Thai Airlines off Safety Blacklist Pending Upgrades

FILE - A Thai Airways passenger plane takes off over a damaged Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 that skidded off the runway while landing at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 9, 2013.

European aviation authorities have decided not to place restrictions on Thai airlines operating in Europe, saying they are convinced that Thai authorities are committed to rectifying safety shortcomings cited by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

A European Union announcement Thursday said the European Commission made the decision based on the commitment and efforts of Thai authorities at the highest level to address ICAO's concerns.

Thailand had feared a downgrade would hurt its national airline and its lucrative tourist industry.

In June, ICAO added Thailand to a list of 12 other nations found deficient in managing their airlines. An ICAO spokesman said at the time its main concern was Thailand's ability to conduct air operator certifications.

Last week the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Thailand's aviation safety rating to "category 2," barring Thai airlines from establishing new services to the United States.

Category 2 means a nation's civil aviation authority is deficient in one or more critical areas or that the country lacks laws and regulations needed to oversee airlines in line with international standards.

Thai Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the FAA's main concerns among 33 points it raised were inadequate manpower and training and insufficient ability to vet the licensing of pilots in a timely manner.

The EU statement noted the Thai government's commitment "to give the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand ... the necessary resources and competences to carry out its responsibilities independently and without interference." It also mentioned that a memorandum of cooperation was signed by Thailand's civil aviation agency and the European Aviation Safety Agency earlier this week to work toward improving safety standards.

The decision, announced in Brussels, was part of an update of the EU Air Safety List, a list of airlines subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union.

The update removed Kazakh carrier Air Astana from the blacklist, but added Iraqi Airways. The update, to be published Friday, lists a total of 230 airlines banned from flying in Europe.