Global ban on new flights looms as Thailand fails UN audit

Global ban on new flights looms as Thailand fails UN audit
Bangkok's Don Muang Airport may get quieter if more countries ban Thai flights out of safety concerns.

BANGKOK - Thailand is rushing to prevent a possible global ban on new flights from the country after the Southeast Asian tourist hub failed a United Nations aviation safety audit, capping a decade of rising concerns.

The country was branded a "significant safety concern" in an alert issued on March 20 by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency. Although there has been no further official announcement, Thailand is understood to have failed all but 11 of 100 points in the February audit, according to regional industry analysts.

Thailand's failure to meet the minimum standards of the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program prompted Japan and South Korea to stop allowing new charter and scheduled flights from the country, although the Thai government is hoping to sign an emergency deal with Japan this week to limit the impact on travelers during the busy Easter and Songkran (Thai New Year) holiday period.

Under the bilateral memorandum of understanding, all chartered flights by Thai airlines would be able to fly to Japan in April and May, but all planes would have to undergo thorough safety checks after landing, the Bangkok Post said, citing comments by Transport Minister Prajin Juntong.

About 400 additional flights carrying more than 150,000 passengers are expected to operate to and from North Asia during the holiday period.

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