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Questions arise about costs of military helicopters

Thaiger

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In the wake of the tragic crash of King Power supremo Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s personal helicopter last Saturday evening (UK time), an unintended story has emerged about the costs of the model of his helicopter, the same model used by the Royal Thai Army.

Srisuwan Janya, a ‘transparency activist’, according to Khaosod English, has dug into the accounts books and found that the military paid almost three times as much as Vichai for the same model. He notes that the helicopter model flown by Vichai’s pilot was newer so should have been more expensive.

Srisuwan calculated that the Thai military paid nearly three times as much for older models. Vichai’s helicopter was an AW169 made by Italian defense firm Leonardo.

“It cost Vichai about 280 million baht,” according to the report in Khaosod. “It raises a lot of suspicions.”

According to Srisuwan, when the Thai army bought 12 helicopters of a more outdated type from Leonardo between 2012 and 2017, it paid 675-737 million baht for each. These are the amounts as published by the Thai armed forces and quoted by Srisuwan.

Srisuwan says he is filing a formal complaint to the Thai national auditor’s office about the cost disparities.

In response to the story a Defense Ministry spokesman, Kongcheep Tantravanich, says there is a difference between civilian and military models that model helicopter, explaining the difference in price.

“They have different functions,” Maj. Gen. Kongcheep said in the Khaosod article.

A military-outfitted AW139 helicopter, the same model bought by the Thai army, reportedly sold for about 348 million baht in 2013, according to Aviation International News.

The military says it will respond in full when the complaint is lodged.

Questions arise about costs of military helicopters | News by Thaiger

 

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Business

Thailand’s airlines call for meeting with PM to discuss soft loans

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr/Ferry Octavian

The Thai Airlines Association says 7 member airlines are pushing for a meeting with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss the option of soft loans. The carriers have been seeking this financial aid for some time and have even decreased the amount being asked for, from 24 billion baht last year to 14 billion now.

The Bangkok Post reports that representatives from Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, Thai Smile Airways, Thai Lion Air, and Thai Vietjet Air want to meet the PM to discuss what progress, if any, has been made on the matter. Wutthipong Prasartthong-osod from the TAA says the loans would give the carriers the support they desperately need at this time, with the association also putting the request in writing.

The airlines previously met with the PM last August to discuss the proposal, with the TAA pointing out the situation has worsened considerably since then. The ongoing third wave of Covid-19 has led to a reduction in flights, which has had a significant impact on revenue.

In addition, carriers are struggling to meet the ongoing costs of operating flights and paying workers. The association says the provision of soft loans would cushion the impact and help domestic tourism. It is also calling on the government to vaccinate airline staff, given that they are frontline workers in the tourism sector.

The Bangkok Post reports that in February, the Finance Minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, was hesitant in his response to the call for soft loans, with the Export-Import Bank of Thailand asked to come up with some form of financial assistance for the airlines. According to Arkhom, providing soft loans or bringing such lending under the Public Service Account would mean his ministry having to take responsibility for the difference between market interest and soft loan interest.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Thailand

Thai Airways debt restructuring vote pushed back to next week

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Photo via Wikimedia

The vote on Thai Airways International’s debt restructuring plan has been postponed and rescheduled for next week. The national airline needs the plan to be approved by more than 50% of creditors to move forward with the bankruptcy proceedings.

The airline’s total liabilities stack up more than 300 billion baht. With flight suspensions over the past year brought on by travel restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Thai Airways lost 141 billion baht last year.

Thai Airways has proposed a 3-year freeze on the loan repayments as well as a 6-year delay on bond repayments. The airline is also pushing to have unpaid interest on loans waived.

Debtholders discussed the plan during a video conference today and decided to delay the vote, a legal advisor to Thai Airways told reporters. Back in March, Thailand’s Finance Minister, which is the airline’s largest shareholder, had implied that they back the debt restructuring plan. An attorney representing the creditors had also said many favoured the proposed restructuring.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

 

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Thai Airways’ creditors to vote on rehab plan today

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Pixabay

Today is D-Day for Thai Airways, with 13,000 creditors voting on whether or not to accept the struggling airline’s rehabilitation plan. According to a Bangkok Post report, a source at the airline has warned that should creditors reject the plan, the carrier will be declared bankrupt and they would only receive 12.9% of what they’re owed.

In the event of a bankruptcy declaration, the airline’s assets will be appraised to decide how much of its debts can be repaid. The estimate of 12.9% is based on the value of assets currently held by the carrier.

The Bangkok Post reports that the rehabilitation plan which was submitted in March covers debts of around 410 billion baht. It’s understood major shareholders own around 180 billion baht of that debt between them. Should the rehab plan be accepted today, it’s likely Thai Airways will be given a certain timeframe in which to turn itself around.

The plan calls for the repayment period of debts arising from unsecured bonds worth 70 billion baht to be extended to 10 years, with a debt moratorium in the early stages of repayment. The airline is also introducing tough cost-cutting measures, including job reductions via early retirement for thousands of its 20,000 workers.

It’s understood the plan does not call for the Ministry of Finance to provide a loan but says anyone can obtain the loan and the ministry can help with cash injection negotiations. The State Enterprise Policy Office has already stated that the government will not re-capitalise the airline.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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