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US Downgrades Thai Air Safety

In 2007, Thai rescue workers work at the scene of the One-Two-Go Airlines plane crash in Phuket, Thailand. That crash in Phuket killed 91 people. US officials are questioning the safety of Thai airlines again. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai Leader Orders Improvements in Air Safety
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Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chanocha, has ordered air transport officials to improve flight safety because of international criticism.

On Tuesday, the United States lowered its rating of Thailand’s air safety. That move could hurt the Thai tourism industry.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration moved Thailand from a category one rating to category two. The FAA did not provide details on its decision. It said officials found Thailand’s civil aviation administration lacking in one or more critical areas. This could include technical expertise, training processes and inspection systems.

The U.S. decision follows earlier criticism. In March, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported concerns about Thailand’s aviation safety.

Soon after the organization’s report, South Korea, Japan and China limited Thai-based airline operations in their airspace. Reports say some of those restrictions have been eased since.

Thailand’s national carrier, Thai Airways International, said the FAA decision would have no immediate effect. Some experts disagree. They have expressed concerns about the effect on Thailand’s critical tourism industry.

Thai Airways President, Charamporn Jotikasthira, spoke with VOA earlier this year. He noted that the airline no longer flies directly to the United States. He told VOA he is more concerned about the judgement of European air officials. A critical report from them would affect Thai flights to all European destinations.

The European Aviation Safety Agency is to release results of its investigation on December 15.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Ron Corben wrote this story for VOANews. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

tourism n. the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment, etc., for people who are traveling

aviation n. the business or practice of flying airplanes, helicopters, etc.

category n. a group of people or things that are similar in some way

expertise n. special skill or knowledge: the skill or knowledge an expert has

destination n. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent​