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​ICAO drops red flag for Thailand

Updated with news of CAAT's Facebook posting.

ICAO has removed Thailand's red flag status on its website, in an important boost for the local airlines.

ICAO's website has shown Thailand under a red flag since early 2015, when an an audit by the international body raised a number significant safety concerns about the country's oversight of carriers, particularly around its processes around awarding new air operator certificates. That led to the disbanding of the Department of Civil Aviation, and its replacement with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

Apart from the removal of the red flag on the site, ICAO did not issue a statement on the matter. On 9 October, a posting on CAAT's Facebook page confirmed the red flag had been removed.

Media reports from Thailand, however, quoting CAAT director general Chula Sukmanop as saying that ICAO officials looked over the country's revamped regulatory system in late September, and approved 33 measures taken to address safety and other concerns.

The move will return Thailand's carriers to parity with regional rivals when attempting to secure new overseas routes.

Newer long-haul, low-cost carriers such as Thai AirAsia X and NokScoot saw their international growth plans to north Asia sharply curtailed owing to the ICAO red flag.

Countries with red flag status include Kyrgyzstan, Haiti, Eritrea, Malawi, and Djibouti.

The FAA retains its 'Category 2' status for Thailand, preventing the launch of new services to the USA. Thai carriers have operated no services to the USA following Thai Airways International's suspension of its Bangkok-Los Angeles service in October 2015.

Thailand's downgrade came into place in December 2015 following the ICAO's red flag. At the time it said that Thailand failed to meet international standards in regard to safety.

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