BANGKOK: A ban on Thai-registered airlines by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) could cause a serious drop in the number of tourists visiting Thailand unless the shortfall is filled from other regions, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has warned.
Thai Airways International (THAI) had about a 60-percent market share on routes from Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Norway and Sweden, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said.
Airlines operating on routes between Europe and Thailand had 5.6 million seats a year. If
Thai Airways was banned in Europe, the number of seats would drop to about 4 million. TAT currently expected 4.62 million inbound travelers from Europe, Yuthasak said.
TAT had already responded by promoting Thailand as a tourist destination in conjunction with other big airlines, including those based in the Middle East, he said.
He also saw the necessity of encouraging tourists from regions other than Europe.
EASA is expected to announce the result of its safety audit of Thai aviation standards on December 10. The US Federal Aviation Agency this week announced a safety ban on Thai airlines introducing new flights to the USA. THAI does not currently fly directly to the US.
As Thai-registered airlines had not been banned anywhere to date, there had been no affect on inbound tourism so far, Mr Yuthasak said. There were 41.33 million airline seats available in total on all airlines for inbound visitors in 2015, with the total number of arrivals so far at 25 million, Mr Yuthasak said.
President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents Charoen Wangananont said the industry had proven it could survive despite the red flag by the International Civil Aviation Organization in June.
However, any downgrading of Thai aviation safety would affect Thailand’s efforts to promote itself as an air transport hub for the region, he said.