BANGKOK – The United Nations' aviation regulator has removed Thailand from its list of countries red-flagged for safety concerns, more than two years after it was first put on the list.
In June 2014, the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization issued a red flag to Thailand and added it to a list of 12 other nations found deficient in managing their airlines. An ICAO spokesman said at the time that its main concern was Thailand's ability to conduct air operator certifications. Thailand had feared that a downgrade would hurt its national airline and its lucrative tourism industry.
ICAO lifted the red flag issued to Thailand after it was discussed at a Friday meeting, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said in a Monday statement on its website.
Thailand's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, said "today is a proud day for Thailand" after he met with ICAO's Asia and Pacific regional director Monday.
"The fact that ICAO have lifted the red-flag it once issued Thailand shows their trust in us and the international community's faith in Thailand's aviation industry," the prime minister said.
Prayuth led a military coup that seized power in 2014 and gave himself, as junta leader, sweeping executive legal powers that were enacted to improve aviation safety measures after ICAO first issued its red flag. The military government also set up committees to directly address ICAO's warning.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration also downgraded Thailand's safety rating in 2015 to "category 2," and has not yet upgraded its rating. The downgrade signified that Thailand's civil aviation authority is deficient in one or more critical areas or that the country lacks laws and regulations needed to oversee airlines in line with international standards, while also barring Thai airlines from establishing new services to the United States.
Aviation regulators in most countries are likely to be influenced by the FAA and ICAO statements.