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Airbnb slashes 1,900 staff to ride out the travel downturn

The Thaiger

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Airbnb slashes 1,900 staff to ride out the travel downturn | The Thaiger
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Accommodation-sharing online disruptor, Airbnb, says it’s slashing a quarter of its workforce, nearly 2,000 workers, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to shred the international travel industry. The company said that it plans to soften the blow for former employees with benefits, including providing 12 months of health insurance.

Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky says the cuts are needed until people start to travel again.

“We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill.”

Airbnb says that it is going back to basic and cutting investments in transportation, hotels and other endeavours “that do not directly support hosts whose home listed on the platform”.

Airbnb has only recently announced it is receiving a billion dollars in new investment to survive and, it hopes, thrive in the new travel paradigm. At the time the CEO said… “The fresh resources will enable the San Francisco-based company to invest in its community of hosts as well as local experiences provided along with stays in homes.”

But since the announcements the world’s travel business has been completely devastated with no clear path ahead until either a vaccine is found or some new way can be implemented for people to travel internationally. Most travel industry pundits are speculating that national tourism and travel business will be rebooted domestically before governments are willing to allow foreign tourists to return.

In the meantime the San Francisco-based company is cutting 25% of its workforce.

“The job cuts will be spread about the company’s global operations, with a goal of tuning a more focused business strategy that returns to Airbnb “roots” of being a platform for sharing homes and local experiences.”

“Teams across all of Airbnb will be impacted.”

“Many teams will be reduced in size based on how well they map to where Airbnb is headed.”

There are 61,400 listings for Airbnb in Thailand.

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Politics

Government to provide more financial aid to small and medium-sized businesses

Jack Burton

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Government to provide more financial aid to small and medium-sized businesses | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Vivaldi PR

Thailand’s Ministry of Finance has been tasked with coming up with plans for additional financial aid to small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Government Spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat made the announcement yesterday.

“The Ministry of Finance will estimate the budget to be used as well as the loan limit and interest rate, and will present to the Cabinet again in the next meeting.”

A source told Nation Thailand the ministry’s survey revealed that SME operators, who couldn’t get loans at the height of the crisis, were mostly those who had never applied for a loan before and so had no record of their repayment ability. They were refused loans to avoid risk. Furthermore, some SMEs were rejected loans because their status was listed under “non-performing loans,” even though they still have the capacity to continue operating.

The source says the Ministry of Finance has assigned the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion to come up with measures tailored specifically to help SMEs in the above 2 groups, such as providing loans from the OSMEP’s fund instead of relying on financial institutions. The measures are expected to be ready by the end of July.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Business

4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience

The Thaiger

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4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience | The Thaiger

Four new board members for Thai Airways are the face of hope for the national airline as it addresses massive losses and restructuring. The airline’s business is now being addressed under the country’s Bankruptcy Act.

Piyasvasti Amranand, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Boontuck Wungcharoen and Pailin Chuchottaworn have joined the Thai Airways executive board. Piyasvasti served as the airline’s president from June 2009 to June 2012.

The four board members were hand-picked by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who said he needed “trustworthy people” to help guide the national airline to a more profitable future.

Last week the Thai cabinet approved a plan for the 60 year old airline to enter a court-sanctioned restructuring scheme under the country’s bankruptcy law. The plan for Thai Airways to borrow 54 billion baht to stay afloat in another government ‘bail out’ was met with widespread opposition, from government ministers, prominent businesspeople and social media. The airline has accumulated debts of 244 billion baht. The Covid-19 pandemic has also grounded most of its fleet, massively compounding the airlines’ already complex problems.

Also last week, the Stock Exchange of Thailand listed airline informed the SET that the Finance Ministry had sold 3.17% of its majority shareholding in the airline to the state-backed Vayupak Fund on May 22. This reduced the ministry’s stake from 51.03% to 47.86% control, stripping Thai Airways of its status as a state enterprise, providing more scope for the new board to restructure the airline and seek private financial assistance.

But the government technically retains a majority stake in the airline if the shares of the Finance Ministry, Vayupak Fund and Government Savings Bank are combined.

2 days ago the PM appointed a 9 member committee to handle the restructuring plan for the ailing airline, chaired by trusted sidekick Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam. The other members are mostly state officials, including the permanent secretaries of the Finance, Transport and Justice ministries as well as the secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The four additional board members will help draw up a restructuring plan for the airline.

But critics are warning of potential built-in pitfalls stemming from numerous conflicts of interest. There is no ‘aviation’ expertise and the “jobs for the boys” criticism will not go away with the new board. They all have impressive backgrounds as senior executives in the private and public sectors.

The airline was already swimming in debt when one of the new board members, Piyasvasti Amranand, became Thai Airways president in 2009. He cut costs at the time by slashing salaries and jobs and reducing unnecessary expenditure. At the same time he was the person responsible for locking the airline into a major aircraft acquisition and starting up the subsidiary Thai Smile – originally meant to be competition for regional low-cost carriers but eventually morphed into a domestic offshoot for Thai Airways leaving the parent company mostly with the international routes.

The other new board members are all politically connected with Prayut and have served in his cabinets or as political advisors. They have all had extensive public service experience heading up multiple Thai enterprises.

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Business

No role for Transport Ministry in Thai Airways rehab plan

Maya Taylor

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No role for Transport Ministry in Thai Airways rehab plan | The Thaiger
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After initially insisting on having a say in the management of the rehabilitation plan for the beleaguered Thai Airways, the Ministry of Transport has conceded that, with its holding in the airline reduced to less than 50%, it no longer has any jurisdiction over what is now a listed public company.

Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam says the struggling carrier is no longer a state organisation under its control and administration of the court-approved rehabilitation plan now sits with the Finance Ministry.

Thai PBS World reports that both ministries had clashed over who would oversee the plan as, until filing for bankruptcy protection, the airline was both a listed public company with the Finance Ministry as its largest shareholder, and a state enterprise under the Transport Ministry.

The Transport Ministry had hoped to recommend 4 people as members of a “super board” that would oversee the administration of the airline’s rehabilitation plan, with other members to be nominated by the Finance Ministry.

The jockeying for position of the ‘super board’ has already begun with prominent names publicly putting themselves forward.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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