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Thailand halts international flights by several Thai airlines

Thailand’s authorities have suspended international flights of Thai carriers that have not been given new operator certificates by the country’s aviation regulator.

The move would impact 12 airlines, which if combined, only have a market share of 2% and will have little effect on the Thailand’s tourism-powered economy, according to a statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

Thailand’s aviation industry has been under a microscope after the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) demoted the country in June 2015, after giving it a red flag for missing a deadline to resolve significant safety concerns.

The government’s move comes before another visit by the ICAO next week.

“They want to see a strict measure. The government had to order CAAT to suspend operations of airlines which did not pass assessment,” government spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd said.

The Thai military junta often invokes executive power, known as Article 44, to clear bureaucratic hurdles.

CAAT was established in 2015 by the military government to address flaws in commercial aviation. It is mandated with auditing and recertifying Thai commercial airlines to make sure they are in line with ICAO standards.

Chula Sukmanop, Director General of CAAT, explained that the suspension will affect 12 airlines, including Orient Thai Airlines and Thai Vietjet Air.

“It’s not that they failed the assessment, but the assessment has not been completed yet,” Chula shared.

“They can resume their flights as soon as they pass the assessment,” he added, saying that the two airlines would soon resume their international flights as soon as next month.

The suspension would be lifted for the other airlines by Jan. 31, 2018, Chula said.

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