A Thai Airways Airbus carrying 302 people suffered a landing gear malfunction on Monday, rolling off a runway at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. All 288 passengers and 14 crew members survived, though 14 people were taken to the hospital with injuries.
Shortly after the accident, Thai Airways brass demonstrated that they had their priorities in order, sending a crew armed with black paint to hastily cover the airline’s logos on the tail and fuselage of the disabled plane (pictured) as it rested helplessly on the grass -- an apparent, desperate attempt protect the airline’s image.
Just over two weeks ago, another Thai Airways plane was rocked by severe turbulence as it moved in for landing in Hong Kong. In that incident, 20 passengers were hurt.
An airline official, Samud Poom-On, told reporters that blacking out the logos was a “crisis communication” protocol mandated by Star Alliance, the largest global airline alliance, which is anchored by German airline Lufthansa and the American carrier United Airlines.
Star emphatically denied that claim.
“We at Star Alliance do NOT have a policy which states that carriers must paint over the logos,” Star spokesman Markus Ruediger wrote in e-mail, including the capitalization.
Thai Airways later issued a statement saying that in fact, it was not Star policy, but that Thai Airways has its own practice of “de-identifying” aircraft after an “incident.”
The flight was en route from Guangzhou in southern China. All of the injured passengers were treated and discharged from the hospital.
SOURCES: Bloomberg Businessweek, Al-Jazeera, Associated Press