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Nok Air says safety its top concern in wake of door glitch

Feb 24. 2015
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The Nation

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Budget carrier Nok Air has conceded that its image has been battered by a recent problem with an aircraft door but insists it follows a "safety first" rule.

The airline held a press conference yesterday, a week after the rear door of a Bombardier aircraft at Nan Nakhon Airport would not close, leaving 80 passengers, including many VIPs and journalists, stranded for five hours waiting for another plane to be sent from Bangkok to pick them up.

The press conference took place at Dusit Thani Hotel, whose chief executive officer, Chanin Donavanik, was among the stranded VIPs. Also stuck were Privy Councillor Palakorn Suwannarat, Thienchai Kiranant, chairman of the National Reform Council, PTT chairman Piyasvasti Amranand, who was also formerly president of Thai Airways International, and Banyong Lamsam, former chairman of Kasikornbank.

Patee Sarasin, CEO of Nok Air, and Frank Baistrocchi, Asia-Pacific regional vice president for sales, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, yesterday vowed to ensure safety and security were top concerns in a bid to prevent further incidents of this kind.

“Nok Air will never fly without 100-per-cent safety. If we find any problem or unsafe condition or technical problem, we will make passenger safety the top concern,” Patee said.

He said the Bombardier Q400, which was delivered to Nok Air a few months ago, did not have any serious problems and what happened in Nan was a technical disruption due to human error.

When a member of the technical staff landed in Nan to look at the stranded aircraft, it took him just five minutes to fix it. Nok Air outsources its maintenance work to Lufthansa, the German national carrier, which uses Bangkok as a major hub.

Patee said he had communicated with many of VIPs who were on the Nan plane and told them the truth about what happened. General customers and foreigners were able to reach him directly via Twitter or social media to get updates on the issue every 15 minutes.

Patee and Baistrocchi have vowed to improve safety procedures by offering intensive training specifically for the Q400, starting today. All staff involved with this aircraft – pilots, co-pilots, aircrew and ground service personnel – will get training and experience about how to handle the doors on this plane.

Baistrocchi said several of his company’s technical experts were ready to serve the airline and were on alert just in case.

Nok Air is scheduled to receive two more Bombardier Q400 aircraft in September along with two Boeing 787-800s this year, in addition to its current fleet of 24 planes.

Nok Air is hoping to keep expanding into China markets and also into Vietnam this year. It operates about 140 fights per day and is running a load factor of about 85-90 per cent.

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