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WFW Bangkok aviation Briefing features in Thai media

16 April 2015

A recent WFW Bangkok aviation Briefing has been featured on the BBC Thai Facebook page and on a news report for Thai television channel NOW 26. The Briefing, entitled “An ICAO Downgrade: Implications and Issues for Thai Aviation”, explores concerns that the International Civil Aviation Organization will downgrade the Thai Department of Civil Aviation. The Briefing was co-written by partner Alan Polivnick, associate Supattana Suthaporn and trainee Rhian Woodend (currently on secondment to Bangkok from the London office).

Please see below the English translation of the article on the BBC Thai Facebook page:

BBC Thai

The Thai Department of Civil Aviation (“DCA”) continues its negotiations with other countries, regardless of the fact that Japan has already temporarily called off the restriction.

The Ministry of Transport announced earlier today that Thailand and Japan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) to temporarily allow chartered flights from Thailand to visit Japan. However, a legal advisor specialising in aviation, has suggested that it is indispensable for Thailand to negotiate with the EU, which has started to express its concern following the findings of the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO”).

The MoU signed between Thailand and Japan will allow chartered flights from Thailand to Japan during the period from 11 April to the 31 May on the condition that all Thai airlines need to meet certain standards, especially those relating to the safety of the aircraft and the transportation of hazardous goods. These air-safety standards must be certified by the DCA prior to being thoroughly reinspected by Japan.

Mr. Alan Polivnick of Watson Farley & Williams (Thailand) Ltd told BBC Thai that in addition to the action taken by Japan, China and South Korea, as of 2 days ago Singapore has initiated the inspection of Thai aircraft operating into Singapore. This has not caused any flight delays thus far. Currently, the EU has initiated the project to set up a special system for inspecting Thai aircraft travelling to European airports. If a particular aircraft fails to meet EU standards, it can lead to such aircraft being banned until the problem is properly solved. This procedure can take between 1-2 days. If this project is being launched, passengers will be affected.

Mr. Polivnick stated that the DCA should negotiate with EU aviation safety authorities including those of European countries in which Thai aircraft are operating, such as Germany, the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy and Scandinavian countries. This is to provide affirmation that all the problems will be fixed according to the ICAO warning.

“The most serious concern is that the EU might blacklist Thailand like it did previously Indonesia and the Philippines. If downgraded, Thai aircraft will not be allowed to operate in Europe. This will adversely affect both airlines and tourists travelling between Thailand and Europe. It can take 3-4 years to be removed from the blacklist and by the time Thai airlines resume operation, they might lose their market share.” said Mr. Polivnick.

Mr. Polivnick ,a legal expert whose clients include numerous airlines,  raised the issue that China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan took abrupt action prior to the issuance of the ICAO full report, which is scheduled to be released in June. The action of these countries is contradictory to the fact that countries such as Japan wish to attract Thai tourists and have applied for a visa-exemption policy for Thai nationals travelling to Japan for a short-term period. Despite the fact that such airlines are renowned, there is no exception for Thai airlines with regard to this situation. He believes that there is an underlying reason behind the hasty actions of these countries prior to the EU or the US, who are presumably waiting for the ICAO full report to be issued in June.

Mr. Woradej Hanprasert, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, told the media that Thailand was once downgraded by the US Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) in 1995, hence it is possible that we will be pressured again.

The original article can be seen here.

You can watch the full NOW 26 TV news report here.