THE AIRPORTS Department will monitor the situation at Nok Air to ensure minimum inconvenience to passengers from further flight postponements or cancellations this week.
Chula Sukmanop, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and director-general of the department, said yesterday that authorities would follow up on Nok Air’s disclosure on Saturday that it would scratch 20 flights scheduled for today, after the abrupt cancellation of 17 flights on February 14 because of a pilot strike.
In the southern province of Trang, there was no chaos at the airport after the budget carrier said it would discontinue two of its four daily flights today, a source said. The flights were those departing Don Mueang International at 11.15am and departing Trang for Bangkok at 11.45am.
Thaworn Saeng-ampai, director of Trang Airport, said Nok Air’s elimination of two flights forced people to book on Thai AirAsia instead, but overall there was no serious impact on people’s travel plans.
Trang Airport was served by only Nok Air and AirAsia, each of which had offered three round trips carrying about 1,800 passengers a day.
Meanwhile, Bangkok Airways has initiated legal proceedings against one of the four passengers accused of being behind a bomb threat on a Phuket-bound flight on Sunday afternoon, a source said.
Wicharit Namuangrak faces a charge of intentionally passing on a faulty message that caused panic on an aircraft in violation of the Air Navigation Act of 2015.
Wicharit, who denied any wrongdoing, was released on bail.
CAAC director Chula told the “Inside Thailand” television programme that this was more likely a misunderstanding.
Although they probably didn’t mean to lie or scare anyone, the department would hear from the pilot and air hostess before taking any action, he added.
The four men – a Brahman priest and his disciples – were heading to Phuket for a religious ceremony.
As they were stowing a metal box carrying an instrument in the overhead storage bin, their conversation was overheard and misinterpreted, said Pol Colonel Kittipop Chompoonuch, superintendent of Suvarnabhumi Airport Police Station. One passenger – later identified as Wicharit – reportedly warned the others to handle the box gently or “it will ra-berd” – meaning “explode” in Thai but also “break open” in the northeastern dialect.
This resulted in the flight attendant reporting a possible bomb threat to the captain and a thorough search of the plane as per protocol.
The plane was allowed to leave about five hours after its scheduled departure, while the men were brought in for questioning.