Monday, July 21, 2008

Operations suspended at Thai carrier One-Two-Go Airlines

One-Two-Go MD-82Thailand-based low-fare carrier One-Two-Go Airlines, a subsidiary of the Orient Thai Airline Co., is grounding its planes from July 22, 2008 to September 15, 2008. According to an article on Bloomberg News, the suspension is the result of fuel costs, which have more than doubled in the past year. But other media sources suggest there may be more to this move than financial restructuring: suspension of the airline's Air Operator Certificate, for instance.

The Bangkok Post reports that Thailand's Civil Aviation Department (CAD) has ordered One-Two-Go "to halt operations for 30 days due to substandard operations and revoked or suspended the flying licences of nine of its pilots." Quoting Chaisak Angsuwan, director-general of the Thai CAD, the Bangkok Post says:
The department had found shortcomings in the airline's aviation operations, flight schedules and maintenance, along with a lack of quality assurance.

The low-cost airline had violated aviation safety regulations and lacked proper airline management.

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 Bangkok Post article mentioned that Udom Tantiprasongchai, the president of One-Two-Go Airlines, said the nine pilots "were sacked on July 8." However, Mr. Chaisak also said that the CAD expects to file charges criminal against the airline and its pilots in two weeks.

The CAD's decision to suspend One-Two-Go's Air Operator Certificate apparently arose from their investigation of the crash of One-Two-Go Flight OG269 at Phuket in September of last year, which killed 89 people and injured dozens more. The families of a number of that accident's victims are suing the airline, claiming that the crash was due to safety deficiencies.

In any case, One-Two-Go Airlines is grounded -- at least for now. A message on the One-Two-Go website says simply:
Dear Valued Passengers

We would like to inform you that during 22 July 2008 – 15 September 2008 we are operating a reduced schedule.

We apologize for any inconvenience to your travel plan and thank you for your kind understanding.

One-Two-Go Airlines.
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