By The Nation
The regulation is expected to come into force this year.
CAAT director-general Chula Sukmanop said, “Now, more passengers prefer to travel abroad by foreign airlines and there have been flight delays. The CAAT cannot force foreign airlines to pay passengers compensation or take care of the passengers, as there is no law to the effect. We will now rush regulations that will protect the interests of passengers.”
The CAAT presently has the responsibility only of protecting the interests of both Thai and foreign passengers who are affected by flight delays involving Thai airlines.
The CAAT said it had continuously received reports from passengers about delayed flights that have impacted their travel schedules. Most of the delayed flights were Turkish and Russian.
The new regulation will apply the same standard of legal protection to passengers flying by a Thai airline. If a flight is delayed, an airline is required to pay passengers compensation at a determined rate as well as accommodation.
Chula said that if any airline does not abide by the regulation once it comes into effect could compromise the extension of its air operating licence, which would be another way to screen standardised airlines for flying in Thailand and protecting consumers.
The CAAT is considering air operator certificates (AOC) for Thai Summer airline, a Thai-Chinese joint venture, and Thai Eastern airline, a Thai-South Korean joint venture.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s aviation industry is ready for another round of inspections by the International Civil Aviation Organisation on operating standards after it found deficiencies in the past. The CAAT has already completed its standard inspection and AOC issuance for all 25 airlines operating in Thailand.
According to a Transport Ministry announcement on protection of passengers flying Thai-registered airlines on local routes, passengers will receive necessary care extending from food, beverage, communications and refund of air fare to flight changes in a case of delayed flights.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Sport Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the ministry would send the Immigration Bureau a letter asking about the proposed extension of the free visa-on-arrival (VOA) scheme, which expires at the end of April, for citizens of 20 countries and one economy.
Earlier, the Tourism Authority of Thailand had proposed extension of the free VOA scheme for six more months, till the end of October this year.
The Cabinet did not discuss the matter at its meeting yesterday. Extension of this measure is expected to boost tourists from China, who are expected to travel to Thailand in bigger numbers, Weerasak said.
The ministry will also discuss with the Foreign Ministry an arrangement for a double-entry visa at an earlier rate of Bt1,000 per person, another measure to woo foreign tourists to Thailand. This planned visa arrangement had earlier been approved by the Cabinet in principle.