The ICAO has removed its red flag from Thailand, indicating that it no longer has serious safety concerns about the country’s aviation sector.
The UN agency imposed the red flag in mid-2015, following an earlier inspection that had identified 33 significant safety concerns.
Such concerns do not necessarily indicate a particular safety deficiency at an airline or maintenance department, but, rather, indicate that the state is not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of applicable ICAO Standards.
In response, Thailand’s aviation authority, the CAAT, decided to recertify all Thai-registered carriers operating international flights, a process that began in September 2016.
Starting with the biggest carriers, the CAAT had managed to re-issue air operator’s certificates (AOCs) to nine airlines by September this year.
However, about 12 other carriers still await a new AOC, and these were forced to suspend international flights from the beginning of last month.
Shortages of resources to carry out the necessary audits mean that it may still be some time before they can resume foreign services, but it seems unlikely that Thai authorities will relax their scrutiny now that the red flag has gone.
“Although lifting red flag is a significant turning point for her aviation industry, Thailand as well as CAAT need to carry on their missions to improve the aviation safety standards… Thailand must continue to progress the corrective actions for all findings from the previous [ICAO] inspection in January 2015,” the CAAT states on its website.
One consequence of the disruption caused by the red flag was an inability of airlines awaiting recertification to alter their fleets on existing routes, since this would have complicated an already gruelling audit process.
As a result manufacturers and lessors may enjoy a wave of deals from recertified Thai carriers in the coming months.