Monday, March 21, 2011

Father of Thai air crash victim Alex Collins slams One Two Go airline as inquest looms Read More

Near total avoidance of travel to Japan' threatens aviation market

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2011
The crisis in Japan is threatening to cause major disruptions to the country's US$62.5 billion aviation market.

The crisis in Japan is threatening to cause major disruptions to the country's US$62.5 billion (Dh229.56bn) aviation market, which equates to 10 per cent of global airline industry revenues.
The country's $19bn domestic air travel market, with 83 million passengers a year, is the most vulnerable, while international carriers in the Middle East, the US and Europe are also scrambling to re-route operations to safe airports.
"Travel patterns will most certainly be disrupted over the short term, with the likely near total avoidance of travel to Japan," the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa) said.
"A number of carriers have adjusted their schedules to minimise overnight stops and related crew changes in Tokyo." more

Southeast Asia announces plans for single visa system

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is planning to adopt a single visa system enabling tourists to visit any of the group’s 10 member states on a single travel document. Following the lead of Europe’s Schengen single visa system, Jakarta-based ASEAN believes that a single tourist visa policy would enhance the tourism experience in the region, boosting arrivals to member states. “The plan is realistic, action oriented, attuned to the global realities and designed to ensure that the ASEAN region can continue to be a successful tourism destination,” said Thong Khon, Cambodia’s minister of tourism at the recent ASEAN ministerial meeting, held in Phnom Penh. Earlier this year, the group recently released its ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015. The plan is expected to promote the region as a single tourist destination, develop a set of ASEAN tourism standards with a single certification process, enable tourism employees to work in any ASEAN country, and create a single tourist visa policy. This final intention was confirmed this week by Eddy Krisneidi, an official at the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat. The strategy also gained strong support from the so-called ‘Plus 3’ countries - China, Japan and South Korea. ASEAN is also moving towards the implementation of an open skies aviation policy, which is scheduled to come into force in 2015. A unified ASEAN aviation market means that airlines would be able to fly freely over the region, transporting passengers between member states without limits imposed by individual governments in terms of routes, frequencies, airlines or aircraft types. In tandem, the single tourist visa and open skies aviation policy would have the potential to greatly improve the region’s appeal as a tourist destination, offering the opportunity to significantly increase tourist arrival numbers from the 65 million achieved in 2010. The plans have some obstacles to overcome before being implemented however, not least the inclusion of Myanmar, and local cross-border disputes, including the situation between Cambodia and Thailand.

IATA: 'Major slowdown' in Japan will affect airlines worldwide

THAI advised to hire purchase

The Transport Ministry has assigned Thai Airways International to buy 37 new aircraft on hire purchase instead of leasing them.
The move came after the ministry told THAI to thoroughly compare the information and figures between hire purchase of the 37 new aircraft and leasing them.
Supot Saplorm, the transport permanent secretary, said THAI earlier proposed a plan to lease 37 new aircraft. The lease project would have cost the national airline carrier about 216 billion baht.
However, the Transport Ministry wanted THAI to hire purchase them instead, as it would be worth the investment in the longer term.
THAI was told to exercise its option and compile more information on the hire purchase option.
The feasibility study showed the cost of hire purchasing 37 new aircraft was about 140 billion baht, which is more cost-effective than leasing them, Mr Supot said.
The ministry had instructed THAI to map out a new strategy to turn Thailand into a regional aviation hub.
To achieve that goal, THAI would have to work in partnership with other relevant agencies, such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand, he said.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cambodia sets its eyes on the south coast

CAMBODIA - With tourist arrivals in Cambodia approaching the 3 million mark, the country is seeking to diversify its tourism offer. As Siem Reap and the nearby Angkor temples reach saturation, the Cambodian Government is turning its eyes to the 400-kilometre coast along the Gulf of Siam.

The area receives only 162,000 international tourists a year, a mere 5% of all arrivals in the country (and compared to 44% for Siem Reap). The coast has some 60 hotels with almost 3,000 rooms, the majority of them in the coastal city of Sihanoukville (45 hotels with 1,945 rooms). Only a few of them offer world-class standards: Cambodia's Sokha Group is present with the Sokha Beach Resort, a five-star resort, while the Independence Hotel, inaugurated in 1963, reopened two years ago as a four-star property.
However, more luxury and first-class properties are to come. The Royal Group Cambodia has recently revealed its ambition to build Asia's 'first environmentally planned resort island', pioneering high-end international tourism on the country's idyllic coastline. The vision is to develop the pristine island of Koh Rong ‑ a 30-minute boat ride from the coastal city of Sihanoukville ‑ into an ecologically sustainable resort paradise rivalling established Asian resort Islands such as Bali and Phuket.

The Sokha Group is involved in two major resort developments, the Sokha O'Chheuteal beach and casino in Sihanoukville and the Sokha Bokor Resort. Both are scheduled to open in 2012. A Japanese project is also taking shape in Sihanoukville with residence apartments and a hotel. The Song Saa resort, an exclusive 25-villa property will open by the end of the year on an island off Sihanoukville. And in Ream, Accor has signed for a M-Gallery property by 2013.

The crucial problem for the coast is the lack of air access. There are still no regular flights to Sihanoukville and in the short term Cambodia's national airline Cambodia Angkor Air can only promise charter flights …

Bangkok's terminal illness: AoT's medical burden

Suvarnabhumi airport's problems go beyond complaints about long immigration lines, dirty toilets and staff not smiling enough to include others of a more pressing financial nature.
Suvarnabhumi airport’s clinic is staffed by three doctors and nine nurses.
The airport is facing a rising number of foreign travellers who fall seriously ill on their journeys, and even a few who have chosen the passenger terminal to commit suicide.
Since opening in September 2006, Suvarnabhumi has seen at least six suicide attempts. Two of them have been successful, the most recent one being an Iranian.
Hundreds of foreign passengers passing through the airport have fallen seriously ill or suffered accidents, requiring immediate medical attention.
Many are treated at either Suvarnabhumi's own clinic or transferred to Samitivej Srinakarin, the private hospital that jointly offers medical services at the airport with Airports of Thailand (AoT), until they are fit enough to travel to their homelands.
That may sound normal, but what makes it an issue is the growing number of travelling foreign patients who refuse to pay their bills, and their countries simply deny any responsibility.
AoT's Medical Department said that as of 2010, a total of 59 foreign patients had not paid bills amounting to a combined 20 million baht.
That includes two attempted suicides _ a Bangladeshi man last May and a Russian man in August 2009 _ who survived but ran up medical bills totalling 850,000 and 302,000 baht, respectively.
Such patients say they have no money. Worse, their countries offer no help, telling AoT and Samitivej Srinakarin that the dispute is strictly between the individuals involved and the Thai entities.
The list of these countries is long, ranging from First World nations with comprehensive social security schemes to poorer Third World states.
"We think it extremely unfair to make us shoulder this huge financial burden while the patients' countries simply ignore the problem," said Sakchai Arunrukthavon, the vice-president of AoT's Medical Department.
"We're morally and legally bound to do our utmost to cure these critically ill patients only to find that the parties involved refuse to take financial responsibility. We have become so desperate that we've tried almost every means imaginable but to no avail."
Dr Sakchai pointed out that AoT and its hospital partner previously had no problem absorbing the bills, but the amounts involved have grown into a huge financial burden over the years.
Most patients who do not settle their bills simply leave the country, some even using air tickets paid for by AoT.
Such patients include broke backpackers, drug addicts, the jobless and those whose families will have nothing to do with them.
AoT has contacted the embassies and consulates of the patients' home countries, but to no avail.
As an international airport, Suvarnabhumi is required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN agency, to be equipped with medical facilities and services for the benefit of travellers.
Unfortunately, the ICAO rules do not explain how the medical expenses incurred can be cleared.
Dr Sakchai suggests the Thai government require foreign visitors to Thailand buy health and travel insurance.

World Airport Rankings 2010: Big changes to global Top 30. Beijing up to #2, Heathrow falls to #4

The rankings of the world’s busiest airports for 2010 have yielded some key developments in global aviation. Beijing Capital Airport has surged into second place behind Atlanta, leapfrogging London Heathrow, which has also dropped below Chicago O’Hare, according to Airports Council International (ACI).
The biggest improver in this year’s list was Shanghai Pudong Airport, which surged 14 places to 20th position just behind Mainland Chinese counterpart Guangzhou (which rose three places). Shanghai Pudong, which reported a 27.2% increase in passenger traffic last year, replaces Newark in the global Top 30.
See CAPA's related World Airport Rankings 2010 reports:
Other notable performers included Jakarta, which jumped seven places to 16th largest, and Singapore - which rose from 21st to 18th place. Dubai gained two places to 13th.
Only two airports in the Top 30 did not grow in 2010, Las Vegas (-2.6%) and London Heathrow (-0.2%). Charlotte (+10.4%) was the only large airport outside the Asia Pacific region and Middle East growing by more than 10%.
NB: Click on any of the airport codes in the table below to view detailed schedule and fares data, as well as news and analysis.
World’s Top 30 Airports by Passenger Numbers: 2010
% change
Rank 2010
Rank 2009
London (LHR)
Paris (CDG)
New York (JFK)
Shanghai (PVG)

Big shifts towards emerging markets – more investment needed

The Asia Pacific region overtook North America as the largest aviation market in 2009. By 2014, Asia will account for 30% of global traffic, while North America will fall to 23%. Asia Pacific’s carriers are the most profitable, with USD7.7 billion in net profits in 2010, and USD3.7 billion forecast for this year, according to IATA. Of the 800 million new passengers who will fly by 2014, 360 million of them will be in Asia Pacific and 214 million of those in China alone, according to the airline industry body. China overtook Japan last year as the world’s second biggest economy behind the US.
ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said: “2010 underscored the resilience of the air transport business and resulted in over 5 billion annual passengers for the first time ever. 2010 also pronounced the shift and divergence in growth across the regions. While North America and Europe have struggled to reach pre-crisis passenger volumes, Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean and Middle East sustained a strong momentum and gained market share through double digit growth.”
Ms Gittens added: “GDP growth projections for this and the coming years are high creating a positive outlook for demand for air transport. This underpins the need to continue to expand and modernize airport infrastructure to maintain high standards of efficiency and customer service. More than ever, airports will be asked to finance these projects autonomously without public funds requiring private and public airports to be empowered to generate necessary returns on their investment.”

European, Asian airlines take steps to avoid Tokyo

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thai Airways' Narinthorn Purnagupta is to pilot the airline's Vietnamese operations

Soaring ambition

After years of spearheading the Cambodian operations, Thai Airways' Narinthorn Purnagupta is to pilot the airline's Vietnamese operations.
A Thai national, Narinthorn Purnagupta holds a Masters degree in economics from Brooklyn's Long Island university (Vinh Dao for SEA Globe)
As he gets ready to leave for new pastures Narinthorn Purnagupta is light hearted. He will pass the baton to a successor who, he is happy to say, will inherit a profitable Bangkok-Phnom Penh route.
The general manager of the Cambodian Thai Airways office landed in the Kingdom in early 2006. “Those were the best years. At the time and until mid-2008 tourism from Korea and Japan was booming and the country’s economy was growing at a rapid pace,” he recalls.
Then came the financial crisis. Purnagupta reckons the passenger demand fell, but he now looks at the future with confidence again as the Thai carrier holds a strong market position in a country of good prospects.
“The Cambodian market is quite sensitive, especially the traffic to Thailand,” says Purnagupta, who is keeping a close eye on territorial tensions between the two neighbours. He is acutely aware of the negative impact the conflict could have on business between and within Thailand and Cambodia.  “However, even during the toughest financial crisis moments, many long-haul clients kept on flying to Cambodia via Thailand. Suvarnabhumi International Airport provides a nice getaway to the seasoned travellers who know Thailand already well.”
With a master's degree in economy from Brooklyn’s Long Island University, Purnagupta has other reasons to be optimistic about the fundamentals of Cambodia’s development.
“The population is more and more educated, investors are coming, people are getting wealthier and they love to travel. Provided we succeed in revising our Air Traffic Agreement with the authorities, I believe we would start with a third weekly flight between Bangkok and Phnom Penh as soon as business volume enables it,” he explains.
Thai Airways carries a diversified mix of clients to Cambodia from diplomats to businessmen and, of course, tourists.
“Tourism is one of the four main business pillars of Cambodia – it provides a hard currency the country needs. We are ready to take risks but it takes two hands to clap,” Purngupta says, suggesting the Ministry of Tourism could draft a better plan to encourage investment in the country’s nascent industry.
He doesn't appear concerned by Air France's network expansion to Cambodia. Yet he sees the growing presence of Gulf airlines – and their low fares – in the region a potential threat. He is quick to add that as fuel-laden long-haul aircrafts demand high -tandard catering capabilities and long runways from its receiving airports, a stopover in Bangkok for flights travelling between Laos and Cambodia and the Middle East is likely. If this proves true, Gulf airlines will lose their competitive edge on possible Europe-Phnom Penh routes.
Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport is of course central to Thai Airways' development strategy. “Regional airports may be competitors in the long term, but for the time being I think Bangkok is safe from harm. The airport has high technology standards and all the land it needs to further extend, so we can easily double our capacity in three to four years. We want to promote it as the best gateway to Indochina.” The extension of the airport is to be completed in 2015, bringing the current capacity of 45 million passenger arrivals per year up to 60 million.
Purnagupta's next stop is Ho Chi Minh City, from where he will also look after the airline’s Hanoi bureau. As the new general manager for Vietnam, he believes he will spend a substantial part of his time talking to the country’s authorities – nuturing a professional, and mutally beneficial, working relationship.
His assignment is to reinforce Thai Airway’s footprint in the country, establishing a stronger link between the local market and the Star Alliance network, which brings together 27 airways including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines to name but a few.
“It’s a bigger market than Cambodia, but Vietnam Airlines’ position is very strong,” Purnagupta says. He shouldn’t have difficulties in keeping himself busy. In its latest study just released last month, The International Air Transport Association expects Vietnam to be the third-fastest market in the world for international passenger traffic by 2014.

Tiger Airways Plans Training Programme for 100 New Pilots

Tiger Airways has invited qualified major aviation training providers to submit formal proposals for the provision of a Cadet Pilot training programme to be launched later this year.
Besides providing comprehensive training to individuals from various countries to enable them to qualify as licensed commercial pilots, the training programme will be tailored to the specific operating requirements of Tiger Airways. As such, the training will include topics such as airmanship, safety management, airline economics and fuel efficiency procedures.
The preferred location of the training facilities will mirror the development of the Tiger Airways network. This may include Singapore or Australia where Tiger Airways already has crew operating bases, together with Thailand or the Philippines where Tiger Airways has announced plans to create Thai Tiger Airways and invest in Philippine based airline, SEAIR.
Tony Davis, President & Group CEO of Tiger Airways Holdings, said, “We are proud to have a team of highly qualified pilots growing their careers alongside the expansion of Tiger Airways in the Asia Pacific region. While we continue to attract significant numbers of qualified pilots from other airlines, we believe that the time is now right to plan the launch of our own tailor made Cadet Pilot training programme, to be operated in conjunction with a major aviation training establishment. Tiger Airways will be growing its fleet to almost 70 aircraft by 2015, and the Cadet Pilot training programme will provide a significant number of the pilots required to operate these new aircraft.”
Tiger Airways currently has about 240 pilots across its Singapore and Australian operations, and a fleet of 24 Airbus A320 aircraft. In addition, SEAIR operates 2 Airbus A319 aircraft that are leased from Tiger Airways with pilots based in the Philippines.

GE Aviation offers latest jet engine to THAI

Fuel surge stings Qantas international flyers

Higher prices: Qantas says fuel costs are an increasing worry for the aviation industry. Source: Supplied
AIR travellers will pay up to $45 more for international flights after Qantas increased fuel surcharges. more

Jet Aviation expands aircraft management fleet in Asia

Hong Kong  —  Jet Aviation added six new aircraft to its managed fleet in Asia, bringing the number to a total of 16. To meet the increased demand for aircraft management and charter services, the Hong Kong office also recently expanded its team of multilingual aviation specialists.

Along with increased charter demand, Jet Aviation has added six new aircraft to its management fleet in Asia in the past few months. The new additions include a Citation CJ3, a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream G-IV, a Bombardier Global 5000 and two Global Express aircraft.

"We are very pleased with the growth of our managed fleet in the region," says Iris Riesen, managing director of Jet Aviation's aircraft management and charter division in Hong Kong. "We work diligently to provide our clients the best service possible and these additional contracts will help us continue to meet their expectations."

Jet Aviation's 24/7 aircraft management and charter operation in Hong Kong was established in 2001. The company currently has 16 aircraft in its management fleet in Asia. Available services include the full range of aircraft management and flight support services, as well as charter services. In addition, Jet Aviation offers line maintenance, inspections and defect rectifications, and AOG support in Hong Kong.

Pan Am International Flight Academy interview in Hong Kong

At the Asian Aerospace 2011 which took place in Hong Kong between 8-10 March 2011, ASIA Travel had the opportunity to sit with Mr. Gregory Darrow, the Senior Director of Sales at Pan Am International Flight Academy.
In the interview, we discuss the company's plans for Asia Pacific, trends within the simulator market, which aircraft simulators are the most popular and much much more.
Pan Am International Flight Academy, with training locations throughout the United States and increasingly now the world, is a leading provider of training support for airlines and aviation professionals. As the only surviving division of Pan American Airlines, Pan Am International Flight Academy can trace its instruction heritage to the earliest days of airline flight training.
Pan Am International Flight Academy’s President, Vito Cutrone, joined Pan American Airlines in the 1960’s. In 1980, Mr. Cutrone opened Pan American Airline’s International Flight Academy in Miami Florida. After the closing of the airline, Mr. Cutrone remained with the flight academy to establish it as an independent training organization. Pan Am International Flight Academy now calls this Miami location its corporate headquarters.

HD Video Interview - Pan Am International Flight Academy

2012 Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE2012)

Although the 2012 Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE2012) is nearly a year away, the show is positioned to be the premier event for business aviation in the Asian region, according to the event’s co-organizers, the National Business Aviation Association and Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA).
"It's been just a few months since NBAA and AsBAA announced plans to re-introduce ABACE in 2012, and in that short amount of time, the momentum that is building for the event has surpassed even our highest expectations," Kathleen Blouin, NBAA Senior Vice President for Conventions, Forums & Seminars told attendees at a press conference today in Hong Kong. "It's clear that ABACE2012 is on a roll, and that it will unquestionably be the foremost event for the industry in the Asian region."
Jason Liao, Chairman and CEO of the China Business Aviation Group and NBAA’s chief representative in Asia, agreed, stating: "All of the elements are coming together for a highly successful show. Leaders from across the industry and government have signaled that ABACE is the event that is best positioned to serve the business aviation community, in the coming year and beyond."
ABACE2012 - the only event in the Asian region dedicated solely to business aviation - will be held in the new Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Center from February 28 to March 1, 2012. The event will include exhibits in the facility’s 4,000 square-meter hangar, a Static Display of Aircraft outside on its expansive ramp, and on-site education sessions led by industry veterans with knowledge of the region’s business and regulatory environment.
In providing their ABACE2012 forecast, Blouin and Liao said industry and government are coalescing around the event; as one example, the two noted that Chinese authorities have officially welcomed ABACE to Shanghai.
"The Shanghai Airport Authority is pleased to support ABACE in 2012, and for many years to come," said Shanghai Airport Authority Chairman Nianzu Wu, who recently sent an official letter of support for the event. "ABACE will be a world-class event at a world-class facility."
Hong Yin, Deputy Secretary General of the Shanghai Municipal Government agreed, stating: "The city of Shanghai welcomes ABACE. We look forward to being the host city for what will be the pre-eminent business aviation event in Asia."
Blouin and Liao also noted that all of the leading international business aviation associations - including the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) have signed on as ABACE partners.
IBAC Director General Don Spruston observed "Business aviation in Asia is at an early phase, but the growth potential is immense. ABACE2012 will be an ideal opportunity for the global business aviation community to showcase the products, services and safety programs that have made business aviation one of the fastest-growing aviation sectors in the world."
Bill Voss, President and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, agreed, pointing specifically the value of ABACE in connecting government and industry leaders to focus on safety. "As business aviation begins to emerge in the Asian region, it's important that the industry's growth be accompanied by a strong safety focus," Voss said. "ABACE will provide an outstanding venue for experts in safety and other operational matters to gather and consider issues specific to the region, share best practices, and ensure that over the long-term, government and industry have an effective safety regime in place."
The support industry and government leaders have given to ABACE comes as the world’s major business aircraft manufacturers are committing to exhibit at the event. Blouin and Liao reported that Airbus Corporate Jets, Boeing Business Jets, Bombardier Aerospace, Cessna Aircraft Company, Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation, Embraer Executive Jets, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and Hawker Beechcraft Corporation have signed on to exhibit at ABACE. GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce welcomed the manufacturers’ support for ABACE2012, stating "This show will be the premier marketplace for manufacturers to introduce their products to companies in the Asian region, and GAMA is delighted to be a part of the event, and to see such strong, early support from the manufacturing community."
In concluding, Blouin unveiled two new resources – a bilingual ABACE2012 web site (, with all content available in English or Chinese, and a new monthly e-mail newsletter – which NBAA and AsBAA will utilize to keep industry updated on continuing information about the 2012 show.
"By any measure, ABACE2012 is coming together as the kind of world-class event that the business aviation community expects from NBAA," Blouin concluded. "The show is poised to take its place alongside other shows NBAA has been involved with, including our Annual Meeting & Convention, the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition and the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition."

Cathay Pacific orders 10 777s worth $2.8B

Thailand's Crime Suppression Division probes missing Orient Thai 747 jet engines

CSD probes 4 missing Orient Thai aircraft engines

The Crime Suppression Division is investigating the disappearance of four aircraft engines from Phitsanulok airport amid suspicions they may have been sold as part of a tax-evasion scheme.
Officers from the Crime Suppression Division inspect a disused Boeing 747 jet. The CSD suspects the plane’s engines have been removed and sold illegally, but this was denied by the owner, Orient Thai Airways. CHINNAWAT SINGHA
The engines, as well as other major aircraft parts, disappeared from two decommissioned Boeing 747s belonging to Orient Thai Airways parked at the domestic airport.
An initial inspection by CSD police found the aircraft had also been externally repainted, rendering their countries of origin and numbers unidentifiable.
Airport director Kasem Intasorn told police Orient Thai Airways rented docking space at Phitsanulok.
The budget airline operator reasoned it could not afford space for the two Boeing planes at Bangkok's main Suvarnabhumi airport.
The CSD is examining documents to see whether Orient Thai Airways parked the planes for maintenance.
"Officers have not yet charged anybody. We're interrogating the relevant parties," said deputy CSD chief Prasobchok Prommun after appointing investigators to inspect the two jets on Monday evening. However, he said, police initially believed that the engines might have been removed for resale. A single main engine can fetch up to 26 million baht.
The two aircraft were inspected after a police informant reported that the planes might be involved in "illegal activities, especially tax evasion", according to a CSD press release.
However, Orient Thai chief executive Udom Tantiprasongchai denied the accusation. He admitted that the engines had been removed, but he said this was a usual practice for decommissioned planes.
The two engines in question had not been used for five or six years, he said. Mr Udom said the engines were now being kept at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport.
He added that the removal of the engines had been properly carried out as the company had to ask the relevant authorities for permission to transport such large airplane parts.
Orient Thai had rented the two Boeing planes for use in its domestic aviation business.
However, after the rental contract expired, the owner did not ask for them back, leaving the company to shoulder parking costs of nearly one million baht a year.
Mr Udom said the officers could seize the planes if they wanted to, or the company would be happy to give them away for free to any agencies or organisations which would like to exhibit them.
He suspected "someone might complain to police as a way to attack me", because a month earlier he had been told to pay taxes to the Customs Department for another decommissioned plane parked at U-tapao airport in Rayong, but he did not pay up.
Mr Udom said decommissioned aircraft are exempt from taxes.
He said someone had threatened in a phone call to turn the two airplanes into a "big issue".
"I was not scared because I had done nothing wrong," Mr Udom said.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Phitsanulok Airport's mysterious 747s involved in Thai tax fraud?

Tax fraud suspected on old 747s

  • Published: 8/03/2011 at 03:06 PM
  • Online news:
The Crime Suppression Division officers have searched two old Boeing 747 aircraft parked at Phitsanulok airport after being informed that the owner was suspected of tax evasion, the CSD revealed on Tuesday.
On Monday, a team of CSD police with a search warrant, led by Pol Col Thanawut Thuamsombun, searched their two aircraft, which are docked at the Phitsanulok Airport. They found that the eight engines and many other parts had been removed from the two jets. 
The aircraft have been repainted in white. The paint covers the aircraft’s original registration and other indications of their origin.
Photo by Chinawat Singha
A CSD source said it was alleged that the aircrafts' owner had sold parts from the two Boeing planes without paying proper taxes.
The source said the CSD team  had found the two aircraft belong to Orient Thai Airlines, which had rented the docking space  at Phitsanulok airport.  The airline informed the airport authorities that the two aircraft were there for maintenance.
The source said it was  widely known  in the airline industry that the airline wanted to sell the two old aircraft for  several million baht each.
The source said the CSD team had neither seized the two aircraft nor pressed any charge against any suspect.
The team has only recorded their findings from the search. The team will soon question the director of the Phitsanulok airport and the aircrafts' owner for further information.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cobra Gold Thailand 2011: U.S. Army Alaska paratroopers land, train in Thailand

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Cobra Gold 2011: U.S. Army Alaska paratroopers land, train in Thailand
A U.S. paratrooper from 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), prepares to land with his combat equipment on Wang Luk East Drop Zone during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011. (U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Matthew E. Winstead)
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by Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead

2/28/2011 - BAN DAN LAN HOI, Thailand  -- Thai paratroopers from the 3-31st Infantry Regiment, King's Guard and their counterparts, U.S. Army Alaska's 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), ended Cobra Gold 2011 with a rigorous three-day field exercise in the wilderness of Thailand, Feb. 14-17.

The operation started with airborne insertion into the massive training area.

The Thai and U.S. paratroopers both jumped from the same C-130 and landed on Wang Luk East Drop Zone and quickly consolidated their forces.

The troops shared the task of maintaining security as unit leaders readied for their first push to their objectives.

In the fictional training scenario, civilians were captured by radicals and were being held somewhere in the area.

Available intelligence pointed to the training area as their last known location.

Opposing forces were already in position to provide sufficient resistance.

The idea for the opposition was to keep the joint Thai-U.S. force moving and hit additional objectives throughout the night.
It was a test of both teamwork and fortitude inspired by the challenges of schools, like the U.S. Army Ranger School.

"We had made arrangements to leave clues and even enemy survivors to provide the joint force the means to locate the next objective after each skirmish," said Capt. Benjamin Marquez, 3-509th, battalion intelligence officer.

The joint force walked eight kilometers through rugged terrain and dense vegetation before recovering all the role playing hostages. The short break in mission requirements allowed the two armies to rest up before the final event of the training exercise, a combined joint firing operation called a combined arms live fire exercise.

U.S. and Thai forces waged a massive assault on a fictional enemy border just a few short hours after the demanding events of the field training exercise.

The joint force used U.S. Marine Corps missiles, fighter jets, and Thai artillery to pound the distant hillside which represented the border of the fictional hostile country blamed for the capture of hostages in the previous day's exercise.

For nearly 30 minutes the empty valley suffered the wrath of the two countries' firepower in a display of explosions and air dominance. Immediately afterward, a rush of Thai and U.S. paratroopers flooded in and took the area in a hail of live gunfire.

From the vantage point of the commanding generals high over the engagement area, the scene looked like a coordinated strike of ants overwhelming a battered and smoking enemy location.

The field training exercise was over. There was nothing left. As the Thai and U.S. troops returned to their camp for rest and refit, soldiers from both armies smiled and slapped each other on the back, mimicking the motions of explosions and machine gun fires.

Despite the language barrier, it seemed the two forces had bridged the culture and the underlying message was clear to participants and observers, "Job well done."

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