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One-two-go, Orient Thai hit by 30-day flight suspension
BANGKOK (Nation): One-Two-Go and Orient Thai Airlines risk seeing their aviation licenses revoked if they fail to tackle the defects that led to the suspension of their flight services today.
That possibility comes amid growing concerns about the airlines’ safety standards.
About 40,000 passengers on their booking lists will be affected by the 30-day flight suspension starting today and will receive combined compensation of 70 million baht. They can also opt to be transferred to other airlines operating on the affected routes.
“Orient Thai and One-Two-Go are the second group to face service suspension after Sky Aviation,” Civil Aviation Department Director-General Chaisak Angkasuwan told a press conference yesterday.
“All defects must be solved within 30 days. In case of negligence or incomplete action, the department can further suspend the service or revoke the licenses. The department will file criminal suits against their pilots, inspectors and the companies in two weeks.”
Breaching the Aviation Act, they are liable to no more than six months imprisonment, a 1,000-baht fine or both.
Udom Tantiprasongchai, owner and CEO of both airlines, has vowed to continue in business despite the trouble. He said One-Two-Go was negotiating with a consortium of investors from Hong Kong, the US and Singapore who operate aviation and other businesses in Asia.
One-Two-Go will increase capital and be upgraded to a full-service carrier, so as to compete with rivals, including Thai Airways International, he said. Orient Thai will serve as a cargo and charter flight operator.
One-Two-Go last week said it would suspend services for two months because of financial losses, but the Civil Aviation Department yesterday announced it had suspended the two airlines’ certificates as low-cost carriers for 30 days. They operate with eight MD-80 Series and seven Boeing 474s. All eight MD-80 Series aircraft must be grounded until all defects are corrected; the Boeing 474s can continue operation.
The department will also suspend the licenses of One-Two-Go’s seven pilots – six Indonesians and one Venezuelan – due to false documentation. Two Thai pilots have also been suspended for 30 days on a similar charge.
The Civil Aviation Department said One-Two-Go’s defects lie in a lack of self-quality assurance and quality assurance on leased aircraft. The lessee, Orient Thai, is not allowed to breach safety standards, particularly on scheduling and poor administration. Orient Thai also has no staff of its own and is assisted by One-Two-Go staff.
Moreover, One-Two-Go trained Orient Thai’s pilots with an unwarranted MD-80 series training program. Orient Thai’s training does not follow the manual and the airline submitted false documentation for the pilots’ efficiency tests.
One-Two-Go’s safety standards first came into focus when its plane crashed at Phuket International Airport last year. Lawyers for the British and US families of the 90 victims are seeking UK£125 million (8.32 billion baht) in compensation in US courts in a case that may shed a harsh light on the cost-cutting and safety standards of some budget airlines.