Thai airline One-Two-Go has been dealt a double-whammy. The low-cost carrier is temporarily grounding its entire fleet until September 15 due to financial difficulties. The Thai Civil Aviation Department has also ordered the airline to halt operations for 30 days after an investigation into an accident at Phuket airport last year in which 89 people were killed.Udom Tantiprasongchai, founder of the airline, has said conditions were hard for airlines with fuel prices having doubled within a year. He says 70% of operating costs are taken up with fuel, and the airline hasalready raised fuel surcharges again by 100 baht to 850 baht per leg.
“In this kind of environment, anyone can go (bankrupt) anytime,” said Urdom, who declined to comment on the impact the present financial situation has had on his airline, saying only that they “are financially sustainable.”
The airline began operations in 2003; it is a subsidiary of Orient Thai Airlines. Orient Thai, which will continue to operate as normal.
Chaisak Angsuwan, director-general of the Thai Civil Aviation Department, said suspension of the airline’s Air Operator Certificate was effective from today.
The department had found shortcomings in the airline’s aviation operations, flight schedules and maintenance, along with a lack of quality assurance.
The flying licences of seven of the airline’s foreign pilots were revoked, six Indonesians and a Venezuelan, and the licences of two Thai pilots suspended. The department found the pilots on the airline’s MD80 series aircraft had submitted documents misstating their level of expertise.
The airline and its pilots were liable to criminal penalties and the department would file charges against them in two weeks, said Mr Chaisak.
The announcement follows the department’s investigation into the crash of flight OG269, an MD-82, at Phuket International Airport on Sept 16 last year, killing 89 people and injuring 41.
The airline was required to correct the flaws in its operations during the suspension period, or the department could either extend the suspension or terminate the airline’s certificate.
Mr Chaisak said One-Two-Go’s parent airline, Orient Thai, was also warned it must change its flight schedules to allow its pilots enough rest time, as required by aviation safety regulations.
Transport Minister Santi Promphat said other airlines would face similar punishment if they were found to have committed the same offences. Airlines should be more careful in examining the qualifications of their staff, especially their pilots, said Mr Santi.
“In this kind of environment, anyone can go (bankrupt) anytime,” said Urdom, who declined to comment on the impact the present financial situation has had on his airline, saying only that they “are financially sustainable.” He also said that the airline could return to service with ease if prices dropped, noting that, “if the situation improved with fuel prices being lowered and the profitability outlook was better, we could be airborne again.”
The airline began operations in 2003; it is a subsidiary of Orient Thai Airlines. Orient Thai, which will continue to operate as normal, recently opened Thailand’s first freight-only airline, Orient Thai Cargo, with a pair of Boeing 747-200Fs bought from Japan Airlines.