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Thailand’s airlines line up for 16 billion baht lifeline

Tanutam Thawan

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Thai airlines are mostly grounded, basically due to lack of traffic from government restrictions to stop people from travelling. But they still have staff and regulations that require them to be paid.

So 7 Thai airlines are seeking a 16 billion baht lifeline from the Thai Finance Ministry so they can keep employees whist their planes remain on the ground. Thailand’s aviation industry has been suspending most of their international and domestic services for a week.

The airlines include Thai Smile (he budget offshoot of Thai Airways), Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, Thai Vietjet Air and Thai AirAsia X (their international carrier from Thai ports).

The executive chairman of Asia Aviation (the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia), Tassapon Bijleveld, told Bangkok Post that the 7 airlines had reached an agreement to request the financial aid in the wake of the virus outbreak which all but obliterated air traffic in, around and out of Thailand.

The airlines hope to secure the financial package when they meet with the Finance Minister on Monday when they’ll discuss long-term loans, an increase in their liquidity, and subsidies on payroll. Last week Airports of Thailand offered a 50% cut in parking charges for the grounded fleets.

Yesterday, Thai AirAsia announced cancellations for all domestic flights starting from April 1 for a month. The decision follows all international flights being suspended a week before.

Only 10 of the 63 Air Asia planes have been in use in recent weeks. In April, the entire fleet will be grounded because of global travel restrictions.

The losses in the airline business will be massive and will likely take years to recover, if ever, and many airlines won’t re-appear at all.

 

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