June 22, 2015 / 11:28 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Thai Airasia X to suspend Bangkok-Sapporo flights

* Continue to fly to Tokyo, Osaka as normal

* Plan to open new routes in Japan on hold (Adds details)

BANGKOK, June 22 (Reuters) - Thai AirAsia X, the country’s largest budget long-haul carrier, will temporarily suspend services from Bangkok to Sapporo in Japan from Aug. 1 due to a downgrade of Thailand’s aviation safety rating.

Thai AirAsia X, part of Malaysia’s AirAsia X Bhd, will continue to fly to Tokyo and Osaka in Japan and Seoul in South Korea, it said in a statement on Monday.

Thailand’s civil aviation body is under scrutiny after the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last week downgraded its safety rating for failing to properly oversee airlines under its jurisdiction.

The incident prompted Thai AirAsia X to postpone plans to open new routes to Japan and the airline is looking for new destinations, Chief Executive Nadda Buranasiri said in the statement.

Japan and South Korea are among the top destinations for Thai travellers.

The operations of Thai AirAsia X, along with other carriers such as NokScoot, have been affected since late March after China and South Korea banned Thailand-based airlines from flying charters and new routes because of safely concerns and the Thai authorities were given 90 days to address the concerns.

Thai AirAsia X had secured temporary permission from the Japanese authorities to fly from Bangkok to Sapporo once a day with AirAsia X (Malaysia) helping to supplement flights, it said.

Passengers who have booked its flights from July 31 can switch to an earlier travel date, change destination or receive a full refund, the statement said.

Earlier in June Thai AirAsia X said it had cut its 2015 revenue target to 5 billion baht ($149 million) and reduced its passenger target for services to Japan to 600,000 from an earlier target of 800,000. ($1 = 33.6500 baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Greg Mahlich)

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