NOK AIR was forced to cancel nine flights yesterday after a group of pilots, who failed to meet the new safety standard upgrades, went on strike, affecting scores of passengers.
Nok Air’s chief executive officer, Patee Sarasin, said the airline would take responsibility for the passengers affected by the strike. “Considering it was a weekend, the airline decided to cancel the flights and affected passengers will either be offered alternative flights or a refund.”
He said 10 pilots staged the protest, as they were unhappy with the airline’s safety upgrade to meet the standards set by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
“Following the new safety standard, the pilots in question were disqualified because they did not meet the EASA guidelines and measures,” he said.
“We did not know about the strike before. However, the cancelled flights account for only about 10 per cent of the 200 flights we operate each day,” Patee said.
The airline will hold a meeting today in order to settle the problems, he said, adding the meeting will also consider whether pilots who staged the strike should be dismissed. “The strike severely tarnished the airline’s image and is not acceptable,” Patee said.
The flights that were cancelled included those from Don Mueang International Airport to Khon Kaen, Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Phitsanulok, Phuket, Ubon Ratchathani and Chiang Mai. At first, the airline claimed the cancellation of flights was caused by a technical problem.
Some passengers were alerted about the incident via telephone and thosewho had already arrived at the airport were assisted by airline ground staff.
Patee said there would be no cancellation of flights today as the airline now has a back-up plan to deal with the problems.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpitayapaisith told reporters in Singapore that the strike would not affect Thai aviation safety issues. He said it was an internal problem and not a safety issue. Arkhom is in Singapore to attend the Singapore Airshow – Asia’s largest aviation conference scheduled for today until Wednesday.
Complaints from Nok Air passengers flooded its Facebook page for cancellation of flights without prior notice. They complained that the cancellation had led to them wasting time and money. “Flying with Nok Air is risky... their credibility is lost,” a passenger wrote on its Facebook.