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Nok Air cancellations ‘don’t violate rules’

Feb 22. 2016
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By The Nation

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NOK AIR’S cancellation of 20 flights tomorrow complies with consumer protection rules, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) affirmed yesterday, while a bomb threat grounded a Phuket-bound plane just before departure.
CAAT director Chula Sukmanop said the domestic budget carrier had completely conformed to the rules, as it has informed passengers in advance so that they could make alternative plans and was in accordance with the Transport Ministry’s announcements on consumer rights protection rules. 
Nok Air has given affected passengers the choice of receiving a refund of their airfare, changing their flight or flying on another airline.
According to consumer protection rules, in case of a change of flight plan without prior notice, for instance, the airline has to provide food and Bt200 compensation to each passenger. 
Passengers whose flights are cancelled should also be offered a full refund, another flight or other options, and be paid Bt1,200 cash immediately as compensation before departure.
Chula said CAAT’s officers on Saturday began reviewing staff records to assure passengers that pilots were following the rules on working hour limits. 
The authority will continue to closely monitor the resolution of Nok Air’s internal problems, he said. 
Thai Smile, the wholly owned subsidiary of Thai International Airways, continues to help fly charter flights for Nok Air. 
Voranate Laprabang, acting chief executive officer, said Thai Smile, as an affiliate of Nok Air, which is 39 per cent owned by THAI, has laid on four charter flights for Nok Air since February 15, the day following Nok Air’s scrubbing of nine flights caused by a pilots’ work stoppage.
Thai Lion Air has also helped fly for the budget airline.
“However, each airline normally considers its requirements first, whether its timetable is available,” Voranate said. 
“If unoccupied, it will be able to help [Nok Air] appropriately based on the day-to-day situation.” 
Thai Smile is willing to help others even though the aviation industry was now highly competitive, he added. 
This could be seen as a corporate social responsibility, since passengers affected by cancelled flights should be sent to their destinations safely, Voranate said.
Also yesterday, Bangkok Airways scrapped a flight to Phuket after overhearing passengers’ talking about explosives on the aircraft before take-off. 
Suvarnabhumi Airport’s centre for security and safety was alerted by Bangkok Airways’ officers to conversations among four Thai passengers in regard to what the pilot had to decide about invoking the emergency plan for bomb threats on flight PG924, said Sirot Duangrat, director of the airport. 
The flight to Phuket was scheduled to leave Suvarnabhumi at 12.30pm with 156 passengers and eight cabin crew aboard and the passengers had their carry-ons and possessions stowed in the cabin.
After that, the captain taxied the aircraft to an isolated parking spot. The airport also dispatched explosives ordnance disposal, fire and rescue officers to the scene. 

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