Thailand suspends Thai Vietjet Air from international flights pending safety tests
Thailand's government has suspended all domestic airlines from operating international flights if they have not received new operating certificates from the country's aviation body, according to the Bangkok Post.
The executive order, signed by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday, affects 12 airlines including Thai Vietjet Air, a subsidiary of Vietnamese low-cost airline VietJet Air.
The airlines will still be able to fly within Thailand.
The 12 airlines hold a combined market share of only 2 percent, so the government is confident the move will have little impact on the country's tourism-dependent economy, Reuters quoted the head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) as saying.
The CAAT was set up in 2015 to resolve flaws in Thailand's commercial aviation sector after the industry was red-flagged by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in June that year. It has been tasked with auditing and re-certifying the country's airlines to make sure they meet ICAO standards.
"It's not that they failed the assessment, the assessment has not been completed yet," Reuters quoted Chula Sukmanop, director general of CAAT, as saying.
Thai Vietjet Air and Orient Thai Airlines, another airline affected by the suspension, are expected to resume international flights as soon as next month, according to Chula.
The other airlines are expected to be re-certified and have their suspension lifted by January 31, 2018, Chula added.
Thai Vietjet Air is a joint venture between VietJet Air and Thailand's Kan Air and is part of the Vietnamese low-cost carrier's plans to expand further into international markets. The airline was licensed in late 2014 and commenced operations in early 2015.