ICAO Removes Red Flag, Thai Airlines to Pounce on the Opportunity

10th Oct 2017

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) finally lifted the red flag over Thailand. This is good news for the local carriers as they can finally set their sights on expanding their international networks. Something they were banned from doing since June 2015, when ICAO downgraded Thailand for significant safety concerns.

Already, several Thai-carriers are planning new routes and expanding current ones, with China, Japan and South Korea markets proving to be especially enticing.

Nadda Buranasiri, CEO at Thai AirAsia X said his airline is looking at some new routes and mentioned Hokkaido, Japan as one of the possibilities.

He said:

We will likely increase routes and frequencies to China, South Korea and Japan.

Thailand’s biggest carrier, Thai Airways International (THAI) declined to give an official comment about the new situation, but one source from this airline said they don’t have sufficient number of aircraft to make the most out of the newfound opportunity. The source, who asked to remain unanimous as he isn’t authorized to speak to the press, said THAI expects its rivals will increase routes to other Asian destinations.

Vice chairman at Nok Air, Patee Sarasin said the carrier will add new routes as soon as slots become available.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), the decision to remove the red flag was made after a meeting with ICAO last Friday. The CAAT said on its website:

Although lifting the red flag is a significant turning point for her aviation industry, Thailand as well as CAAT needs to carry on their missions to improve the aviation safety standards.

Chula Sukmanop, CAAT director general also said at a media conference that he expects the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration will follow ICAO’s decision and upgrade Thailand back to Category One status soon. This would mean that Thai-based carriers would be allowed to start new routes to the United States as well.

ICAO didn’t make an official statement regarding lifting Thailand’s red flag, but it did remove it on its website.

Lifting the red flag means that Thailand is finally no longer in the same group as countries like Djibouti, Eritrea, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan and Malawi.

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