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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
UK bans Phuket Air after revolt by passengers
Andrew Clark
6 May 2005
The Guardian

A cut-price Thai holiday airline has been banned from flying to Britain after a safety scare last month in which passengers staged a rebellion when they saw fuel leaking from a wing.

Phuket Air, which was used by several leading tour operators including Kuoni and Thomson Holidays, has had its operating licences suspended in Britain and its other European destination, the Netherlands.

The Department for Transport said the sanction, which is unusual for a mainstream carrier, was a result of "the number and severity of safety breaches revealed in Civil Aviation Authority inspections". One of the airline's jumbo jets is still at Gatwick airport. The aircraft has been impounded by the airport's operator, BAA, in lieu of unpaid landing duties, which industry sources put at more than pounds 100,000.

Founded four years ago, Phuket Air uses a fleet of Boeing 747s aged between 15 and 26 years, which it bought from the Dutch national carrier, KLM. The venture was intended to attract price-conscious travellers in a long-haul version of Europe's successful low-cost airlines, with fares to Thailand from around pounds 300 return.

Problems began to emerge last month when passengers prevented a plane from taking off after a refuelling stop at Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, en route from Bangkok to London.

British holidaymakers said fuel was gushing out of a wing, although the airline claimed they were "typical drunken Brits" and said the fuel tanks had simply been overfilled.

A replacement aircraft sent to pick up the tourists was delayed owing to further technical problems. Two days later, the same plane was forced to abandon a flight from Gatwick and circle above the airport, dumping 50 tonnes of fuel, owing to a hydraulics problem.

A Civil Aviation Authority spot check found that the collision avoidance system on one aircraft was not working.

Other faults included a damaged gearbox and faulty emergency lights. The authorities in the Netherlands lost patience when one of the airline's pilots was found to have an out-of-date medical certificate.

Bans on individual airlines are rare, although Britain does have a blanket prohibition on airlines from a few countries judged to have inadequate regulation, including Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Tajikistan and Congo. The Department for Transport said Thailand's main carrier, Thai Interna tional, was unaffected, and Britain still had confidence in Thailand's safety authorities.

A regulatory source said: "The tsunami may have accelerated some financial problems, and if they've got problems of that sort, they may have taken short cuts in other ways." Phuket Air did not return calls yesterday.

David Learmount, the safety editor of Flight International, said the age of the airline's fleet meant it would need a lot of day-to-day expenditure on maintenance.

"There's nothing wrong with using old aeroplanes as long as you look after them," he said. "It's like having an absolutely immaculate 1927 Bentley: you can keep it on the road as long as you spend a lot of time and money on it."

BAA confirmed that it was refusing to allow a Phuket Air plane to leave Gatwick until the carrier had paid its bills, although it refused to say how much money was at issue. It said: "We are trying to resolve the issue as amicably as possible."
 

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Good! My sister-in-law was on that flight and on an equally fucked up return flight. Cost her a blinkin' fortune their twatting around
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Now the Dutch have banned Phuket Air
6 May 2005
The Nation (Thailand)

Phuket Air expects to resume its Bangkok-Amsterdam service within days, following a ban by the Dutch authorities.

The suspension, which came after the private airline's international operation faced a lengthy series of embarrassments, followed the discovery that an aircraft servicing the route was found to have a faulty emergency lighting system and that one of Phuket Air's pilots was unable to produce a necessary medical certificate.

Sribenja Semmeesook, a consultant for Aziam Burson-Marsteller - Phuket Air's public relations agency - said the airline's board members had met officials of the Thai Aviation Department earlier this week to try to resolve the problems and resume the service as quickly as possible.

"The reason they suspended the [Bangkok-Amsterdam] service is still not clear Whether it was because of the emergency lighting, or because the pilot did not have the required medical certificate, or both," Sribenja said. "There was no need to order the suspension because of the problem with the emergency lighting," she said. "It was not a major problem. Only one of the emergency lights [in a series] was not working, and we have fixed that already.

"Regarding our Filipino pilot, I think it was a misunderstanding between him and the Dutch civil aviation authorities," she said. Sribenja added that the problem seemed to be that the pilot had a current medical certificate from the Philippines, but the Dutch civil aviation authorities did not accept it as sufficiently comprehensive.

"We need a few days because we have to deal with three countries: the Netherlands, the Philippines and Thailand," she said.

Sribenja said the airline expected to clarify what was required and settle misunderstandings quickly and would soon resume its Bangkok-Amsterdam flights.
 

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"We need a few days because we have to deal with three countries: the Netherlands, the Philippines and Thailand," she said.
So they don't care they have been banned from Britian as well.
 

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A guy at work got food poisoning on a Phuket Air flight last November and is still off sick. He's now got severe IBS and is in and out of hospital.

His airline dinner chicken was still cold in the middle when he bit into it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Phuket Air hires UK safety training experts
6 June 2005
The Nation

Problem-plagued Phuket Air has recruited a British provider of safety training to instil "best practice" throughout all levels of its operations.

Chawanit Chiamcharoenvut, the airline's executive vice-president, said the deal was struck with training and development company The Human Factor, in London.

It is not known how much Phuket Air is paying for the services, founded by ex-Royal Air Force pilot George Duncan.

"A range of programmes will be rigorously implemented across the supply chain and across the company to ensure that best practice in Western European safety and service standards are embedded at all levels and locations served by the airline," Duncan said.

The company specialises in reducing human error in "mission-critical" situations, a wide compass that could include anything from an aircraft cockpit to a hospital operating theatre.

The airline has been plagued by problems since the middle of April.

One of its planes has been prevented from leaving Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates after passengers saw fuel pouring from a wing. The company said the wing had been "over-filled" with fuel.

A Bangkok-bound flight had to return to London after developing hydraulics problems.

The airline was banned from flying into the United Kingdom and the Netherlands after safety inspectors found "serious" faults on planes, while a plane was impounded at London's Gatwick airport for non-payment of landing fees.

In addition, the company cancelled its Bangkok-Bali route, claiming that passenger numbers had slumped because the ban on flying from Amsterdam had robbed the Bali service of "feeder" flights.

Sribenja Semmeesook, a communications consultant for Phuket Air's PR company, Aziam Burson-Marsteller, said the airline hopes to move would make customers more confident about using Phuket Air.

"I think this training will be good for crews, will make passengers more confident, and will enable us to develop our service similar to other airlines," she said.

"This isn't something that airlines must do by law, but it is the sort of thing done by airlines that want to develop and compete better."

Sribenja said the company was still working to persuade the Dutch and British civil aviation authorities to overturn the bans on flying to the Netherlands and Britain.
 
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