Friday, October 19, 2012

DCA gives PC Air one last chance

The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has warned Thai-owned PC Air that if it leaves passengers stranded again, the troubled airline will be grounded.

The warning came in talks between the DCA, deputy transport minister Chatchart Sithipan and airline executives yesterday, after PC Air on Tuesday left 400 of its passengers stranded at South Korea's Incheon International Airport.

The department decided not to revoke the airline's operating license immediately, as many customers had already bought tickets for future flights. But they would not hesitate to do so if the problem recurs, the deputy minister said.

The recent stranding of passengers was the first time the privately owned PC Air has had a problem of that kind. The incident occurred due to a conflict between the airline and its South Korean agent, Skyjet, over unpaid bills for airport charges and jet fuel totaling more than 10 million baht.

According to the deputy transport minister, PC Air said it sent staff to Incheon Airport to deal with the situation. The airline's payment system to Skyjet will be terminated, he said.

"As far as the company's financial status is concerned, it appears to have no problem. We will therefore not terminate its license," Mr Chatchart said.

PC Air's license must be renewed every month. The current license will expire at the end of this month.

DCA director-general Woradej Harnprasert said the airline had not yet filed a request for an extension of its license, but said the proposal could be lodged any time within 45 days prior to its expiry.

In the wake of the stranding, the DCA has been directed to draft additional regulations to protect passengers' rights on domestic and international charter flights. The regulations could be enforced within a month, Mr Chatchart said.

Besides PC Air, Thailand has five other airlines providing international charter flights - Jet Asia Airways, City Airways, Solar Aviation, U Airlines and Siam General Aviation. Executives of the six airlines will meet the Transport Ministry next Friday to discuss imposing tighter measures to protect passengers' rights.

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