Thai Vietjet mulls expansion

BANGKOK 18 September 2017: Thai Vietjet will announce new regional routes out of Bangkok, this October, after it receives its recertification under the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

It is expected that the carrier will announce a schedule of international expansion from Bangkok to new destinations in Vietnam, China and Taiwan.

The airline was one of 12 that suspended international services due to not having completed the recertification process.

This month sees the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) revisit Thailand to assess whether to lift the red flag on the country’s aviation governance.

ICAO alerted the country in early 2015 that aviation authorities lacked compliance and due diligence regarding security regulations.

After a radical restructuring of government agencies linked to aviation, CAAT was formed and recertification was launched.

The Air Operator Certificate Recertification programme worked down a list of airlines based on the size of their international operations out of Thailand.

So far, nine major airlines based in Bangkok were recertified by the CAAT’s 31 August deadline.

Another 12 were in the process, but to ensure ICAO’s assessment team is presented with a clean sheet, CAAT ordered airlines that were pending recertification to suspend international flights.  It cleared the decks and checked all the boxes for ICAO, as the country’s aviation officials scurry to win green flag status.

However, critics say CAAT should have focussed all available resources on the task of recertification to eliminate the queue by the 31 August deadline. Suspension resulted in a loss of business for the 12 companies lower down the list.

In its press statement at the weekend, Thai Vietjet confirmed it was currently undergoing the final stages of recertification conducted by Civil Aviation Authority International (CAAI) and CAAT.

According to CAAT director general, Chula Sukmanop, the carrier will be granted a new AOC, this October, after completion of the assessment and would be able resume, or start new international services.

Thai Vietjet was responding to growing passenger concerns that popular domestic flights would be disrupted due to the CAAT’s action. However, the suspension that took effect 31 August does not apply to domestic services.

Most of the other suspended airlines were small commuter outfits, charter operators and two corporate jet operators that are mainly used for medical evacuation flights .

This month, Thai Vietjet has increased flights on domestic routes such as its popular Bangkok – Phuket and Bangkok – Chiang Mai routes plus its direct Phuket – Chiang Rai service.