Authorities are moving to toughen regulations on the establishment of start-up airlines, seeking to bar entry to those with limited resources.
Under the amendment, a start-up airline will need to have at least two aircraft, rather than one under the current rule, and greater registered capital than the present requirement of 200 million baht.
The Civil Aviation Department (DCA) will introduce an age cap on aircraft to be deployed _ 15 years _ in contrast to the current open-ended regime.
The tighter regulations, which came in the form of a DCA announcement, are expected to take effect later this year after approval by the transport minister, DCA director-general Woradej Harnprasert told the Bangkok Post.
The new regulations will only affect applicants for new airlines, meaning prior licence holders will have up to two years to meet the new requisites.
Mr Woradej predicts no difficulties with compliance, especially from the perspective of the registered capital requirement, noting that the cost of procuring a jetliner can easily run to 1 billion baht.
He did not say how regulations concerning the issue of charter flight licences, now calling for minimum registered paid-up capital of 25 million baht for a fixed-wing aircraft, would be changed.
The tougher terms are in response to calls for tighter requisites for start-up airlines after Thai-owned PC Air's sole aircraft, an Airbus 310-222 with 200 seats, was refused permission to take off from South Korea's Incheon airport last year.
About 400 Thais were stranded at the airport because of a conflict between the airline and its South Korean agent, Skyjet, over unpaid bills totalling more than 10 million baht for airport charges and jet fuel.
Airline executives and industry analysts have said start-up airlines in Thailand do not always have sufficient capital to sustain day-to-day operations, keep their aircraft in tip-top shape and train their crews properly.
These carriers' available funds fall short of minimum requirements adopted by prudent global operators, making them vulnerable to defaults, aborted flights and stranded passengers.
Critics say the airlines are taking advantage of less stringent requirements imposed by the DCA to secure an air licence that lets them gamble on business opportunities.
Meanwhile, Mr Woradej said new legislation to enhance passenger rights is in the offing, aimed at dealing with cases similar to PC Air's.
He said the DCA has received as many as 20 applications for charter licences this year. Most have sought to fly to China and South Korea.
About the author
- Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business