THAILAND HAS approved legislation allowing increased use of commercial helicopters in a bid to overcome growing road traffic congestion in Bangkok. New guidelines approved on 23 January allow companies to operate helicopters on certain routes.

The ruling expands a May 1989 resolution under which large businesses were allowed to operate their own helicopter services. Relaxation of the controls on owning and operating helicopters was initially opposed by Thai security agencies concerned at the possibility of drug trafficking. Operators will be required to inform authorities of their take-off and landing sites and intended route.

The ruling is expected to lead to increased use of helicopters for air-taxi services to avoid Bangkok's traffic-choked streets. Five companies have been approved to operate helicopter services, but only three are in operation so far. Srichang Flying Service shuttles guests to hotels along Thailand's eastern coast; Thai Flying Helicopter operates on behalf of Japanese company Minibae; and Thai Aviation Service supplies offshore platforms in the Gulf of Thailand.

Source: Flight International