Transport Minister’s warning to THAILAND: Overview of airport services

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Transport Minister Suriya Jungroongreangkit issued a warning to Thai Airways International (THAI) after the string complaints eye subpar ground service on Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Speaking after a key meeting with airport service operators, Suriya revealed a plan for dramatic improvements or contractual consequences.

“The ministry has been inundated with complaints regarding the poor quality of ground services provided by several airlines and companies.”

In an attempt to address the growing concerns, a high-stakes meeting was convened with key players, namely THAI Ground and Bangkok Flight Services.

Revealing the root causes, the transport minister attributed the service quality debacle to a major lack of proper equipment and a lack of skilled rotating staff. While his patience was running out, he issued a clear ultimatum:

“Get in shape or face early contract termination, especially with Thai Airways, which still has a whopping 12 years left on its term.”

Accelerate improvements

In a bid to speed up the improvements, Transport Minister Suriya unveiled a short-term strategy that includes the inclusion of Airports of Thailand (AOT) ground air services. Suriya highlighted the imperative for THAI to meet service standards within its contractual timeframe.

“The ministry will closely monitor the operations every month.”

Despite urging airlines to use the SAT-1 terminal during taxiway repairs, reluctance remains, primarily due to baggage handling concerns. The Transport Minister emphasized the key role of improved airport management, particularly in ground services and baggage handling, to strengthen Thailand’s position as a major airport hub.

Echoing this sentiment, AOT director Keerati Kijmanawat revealed plans to bring in a third ground handling operator to accommodate the expected increase in flights, to be announced at the end of April. With current daily flights hovering around 1,000, a significant increase since November, Keerati reiterated the SAT-1 terminal’s capacity to handle up to 400 flights per day, despite current underutilization, he reported Bangkok Post.

Furthermore, Suriya distanced the ministry from any involvement in THAI’s procurement of 45 Boeing 787 aircraft, citing the carrier’s independent operations under the renewal plan. Admitting reservations about the procurement, he rejected rumors about the approval of the ministry, stressing the need for an in-depth analysis.

Recent financial indicators point to a glimmer of hope for THAILAND, with a significant increase in profits in the second quarter of 2023, marking a two-decade high. The carrier’s path to recovery, backed by a court-approved rehabilitation plan, suggests a potential turnaround from its staggering liabilities, which stood at 200 billion baht in September 2020.

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