THAI cuts metal after brawl

THAI Airways International (THAI) is trialling the use of plastic cutlery during in-flight meal services after the airline’s regular stainless steel flatware was used in a mid-flight brawl earlier this month.

Chatree Pongsak, director of THAI’s flight operations safety department, said the change had been made out of concern for passenger safety.

He said the stainless steel cutlery could be used as a weapon in a terrorist attack or to commit a crime on board.

The airline’s Company Safety Committee (CSC) is considering phasing out the metallic cutlery on all of the airline’s routes, he added.

The committee agreed to begin by piloting the use of plastic flatware on THAI’s Bangkok-Los Angeles flights.

It the switch proves successful, the airline’s China routes will follow suit.

“Our decision is based on information about possible terrorist acts and the number of in-flight brawls,” Mr Chatree said.

“We want to prevent steel forks or knives from being used in personal attacks.”

It follows an incident earlier this month in which three Chinese tourists engaged in a brawl on board THAI flight TG674 from Bangkok to Beijing. One of the passengers sustained injuries after being attacked with a steel knife and fork.

Cabin crew were forced to intervene to break up the fight.

Meanwhile, THAI’s acting president Chokchai Panyayong said the company’s board will meet today to discuss plans to reduce staff numbers. The meeting will also consider ways of restructuring the airline to enhance its competitiveness.

Mr Chokchai said the company would offer two early retirement packages to encourage staff to accept redundancy.

He expected around 700 of the airline’s 25,000 staff members will join the scheme, which will be launched within the next few months.

“The company restructure will make it operate better,” he said. “Political interference in the company’s affairs and our working culture are a big problem.’’

Mr Chokchai also revealed that THAI was expected to finalise an agreement to procure new Airbus A300-600 planes within the next two months.

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