BANGKOK, 13 July 2017 (NNT): The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has acknowledged Thailand’s attempts to address red-flag security issues according to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, the National News bureau of Thailand reported earlier this week.
The long-term objective is to develop the country as a major regional aviation hub.
He said an ICAO Asia-Pacific delegation acknowledged a progress report presented by Thai officials that addresses aviation security concerns raised by ICAO red flags.
The ICAO Asia-Pacific delegates praised the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, which has been selected by the ICAO Asia-Pacific office to assume the chair of an air-traffic working committee.
Thailand has been on the red-flag list since June 2015 when ICAO notified Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation (now defunct) that its supervision of the industry was substandard.
Nepal was the only other country red flagged by ICAO in the Asia Pacific region at the time.
ICAO revaluation and inspection focuses on 33 key areas of Thailand’s aviation industry according to the Ministry of Transport.
A United Nations’ agency representing 190 country members, ICAO red flagged Thailand for “significant safety concern” following an unsatisfactory auditing of the country’s aviation safety inspection standards.
ICAO pointed out “significant safety concerns (SSC)… that indicated that the state was “not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of applicable ICAO standards.”
With the possibility that the red flags will be lifted this year, the minister talks confidently of reasserting the country role as a regional aviation hub through the expansion of three airports in central Thailand; Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport and Don Mueang airport and U-Tapao airport on the eastern seaboard, 30 km south of Pattaya.
A fast-speed railway network will link the three airports to transport passengers and cargo. However, it could take another 12 years to complete the rail links and by 2030 international passenger traffic to Thailand will have peaked at 220 million trips.
Both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airport even with the completion of expansion projects will not be able to keep pace with growth. U-Tapao is slated as the third gateway in the triangle, but talks on turning into a major aviation hub have been on and off since the 1990s.
While the plan to turn the three airports into a transport triangle dominates the headlines, travellers would benefit more if the ministry focused on secondary airports across the country to encourage more airlines to offer direct services from major cities in Asia.