The UN-back International Civil Aviation Organisation has removed a red flag imposed on Thailand in 2015 over safety issues in its aviation sector.
ICAO imposed the red flag over a significant safety concern with the regulatory system as Thailand grappled with a big rise in tourism. An SSC indicates that the state is not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of ICAO Standards
The country fell below the global average in all eight of the major safety areas published by ICAO but was particularly poor in terms of operations and organisation.
As a result, Thailand reorganised its Department of civil Aviation into three organisations: the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), the Department of Airports and a search and rescue function within the Ministry of transport.
The CAAT confirmed Monday that ICAO had lifted the red flag status after a visit in September by a team to verify progress to correct 33 safety and related findings “mainly on air operator certification”.
The ICAO team also visited two airlines that recently had their AOC’s recertified, it said.
The ICAO decision leaves Malawi, Kyrgyzstan, Haiti, Eritrea and Djibouti as the countries still displaying the red marker.
ICAO is due to submit an official audit report to Thailand this month but authorities acknowledged the need to continue to improve aviation standards.
“CAAT aims to raise the level of effective implementation of Thailand and achieve the percentage of global average in each category of aviation safety by introducing the regulatory system which will increase the compliance with ICAO standards and recommended practices, the performance of its personnel and the sustainability of Thailand’s aviation industry,” the Thai authority said on its website.
The Nation quoted CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop as saying the removal of the red flag would facilitate higher growth for Thailand’s aviation sector. He also vowed to continue to upgrade the country’s regulatory standards.
The authority is also pushing ahead with moves to re-register Thai-registered airlines and re-issue air operator’s certificates (AOCs).
Major passenger airlines such as Thai Airways International and Thai AirAsia have already been re-certified and the remaining operators are expected to have new AOCs by January.
Those operators who have not received a re-certified AOC are banned from flying internationally.
ICAO officials said in June that the country’s procedures for issuing AOC’s had improved after regulators worked with the organisation and consultants.
The US Federal Aviation Administration’s website on Tuesday still showed Thailand as category 2, meaning it does not meet ICAO standards.