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Thai Airways lays off hundreds of pilots under debt rehabilitation plan

Caitlin Ashworth



PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Hundreds of pilots will be laid off under Thai Airway’s debt rehabilitation plan. The cash-strapped airline, which is buried in a debt around 300 billion baht, has also decided to ground 3 types of aircrafts: the Airbus A330-300 and A380, and the Boeing 747.

After months of tackling bankruptcy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Thai Airways decided to lay off 395 pilots, bringing the airline’s pilots down to 905. The airline says it does not plan to hire more pilots over the next year.

Numerous people have been suspected of mismanagement and corruption that led to massive losses for Thai Airways. A catastrophic decision was made in 2004 when Thai Airways purchased 10 Airbus A340 aircraft for 100 billion baht. The wide-bodied passenger jet came with higher costs on both maintenance and fuel. Thai Airways ended up losing money on every flight. All but 1 of them have been decommissioned and stored at the U-Tapao airport.

In the recent months, Thai Airways has made multiple attempts to try to make some extra cash. With the halt of international travel, Thai Airways did business on the ground and opened a pop-up cafe serving in-flight meals. In November, Thai Airways announced it was auctioning off 34 used passenger aircrafts. They also auctioned off warehouse items and leased its offices for some extra cash.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand


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  1. Avatar


    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    I can’t believe a word of it ! The STV was so successful that million of tourists from
    all around the world flocked into Thailand. Golfers, yachtmen, movie crews, celebrities, billionaires, etc… All high end as the government had foreseen.
    In addition mismanagement and corruption belong to the past in the Kingdom !
    Fake news !

  2. Avatar

    Danial Verex

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Until Thai Airways and all other airlines can put bums on seats, as unbelievable as it sounds, the world remains CLOSED…

    The larger question is how do firms with billions of dollars worth of income generating machinery, that is simply not able to generate a $ (never mind the cost of keeping the machinery) survive..??

  3. Avatar


    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    Very cynical view… Thai Airways has all the ingredients to make a great airline in the world. I have flown then before a few times and found them very professional. I hope the airline survives. While hindsight shows that TAT and the government have shown that they are better at military order than tourism, with properly experienced management, Thai Airways could be a top airline.

    • Avatar


      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 7:04 pm

      True. Well said, and I hope you get the top turn-around consultant job!

  4. Avatar


    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    Thailand is shutting itself down day by day and the military government just stand by and watch because they havent got a clue what to do just come up with
    Crazy ideas on a daily basis so sad and the worst thing is i dont think they would know how to fight a war ever.

  5. Avatar


    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    just the beginning it the same for most of airlines which base their business on international transportation. i guess not only the pilots will be grounded, tech staff and ground staff were already lay off. i am working for an airline, we have been hit but hopefully 90% of our flight are domestic.we did target different market, giving up schedule flight for charter operation, some of air crew and ground crew lost their job, some came back few months latter after march last years …….as always only tech did not recover all the staff …..

  6. Avatar

    Jim kelly

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    300 billion????? In a nutshell, TOTALLY UNRECOVERABLE DEBT!! If (???) it was a privately owned operator it would have folded year’s ago…pre-Covid! However, as it’s the “face” of Thailand’s international travel, the country couldn’t suffer the humiliation of letting it go “tits up!”

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      Jim Kelly’s posted it all.
      Why let the Thai scum pick over the bones of a corrupt failed airline, when so much is owed.
      395 pilot laid off! They should have been sacked 6 months ago.
      In most countries in the world, the management of this corrupt airline would have been arrested.
      I advise that no one should buy a ticket on Thai airways, you might not fly, and there will be no refunds.

  7. Avatar

    Patrick Kelly

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 10:34 pm

    Empty airplanes …empty airports….possibly for years. Where’s the plan for this occurrence? Lockdown locals who want to wait until the coast is clear have no answer. They just cower in their paranoia.

  8. Avatar

    Lone Ranger

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 11:04 pm

    I wish THAI all the success it needs. I have flown with it a few times and always had impeccable service. I also suggest The Thaiger recruits a native speaker of English to write these articles. The plural of ‘aircraft’ is aircraft, not aircrafts.

  9. Avatar

    James Pate

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Interested to see the revised rehabilitation plan. Perhaps the entire concept of “national flag carrier” is an anachronism that should be scrapped. You can have national pride w/o a flag carrier. I didn’t fly THAI many years for 1 reason only- price. If they can’t compete, they should stop. Take THAI off life support. Yes, service used to be excellent, but friends who fly much more often than me told me it could vary a lot, depending on the route. THAI’s litany of mismanagement and mistakes will probably live on forever as a case study for business students.

  10. Avatar

    Albert Zweistein

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 5:43 am

    I flew Thai in 2019, Zurich – Bangkok business class.The stewardesses were fat old ladies not showing any interest in their job and the food was sub standard.

  11. Avatar


    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Thai Airways is an example of a legacy airline:

    -Oldest staff
    -Highest paid staff
    -Unbelievable employee benefits
    -Most expensive airplanes
    -Most overhead
    -Most expensive airfares

    COVID accelerated its demise and it needs to reinvent itself. The government would be smart to get out of the airline business. Being a private enterprise where you have to do everything in the most efficient/cost effective manner will give it a chance to survive in the future.

    • Avatar

      James Pate

      Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 6:13 am

      THAI lost its State Enterprise status when the Finance Ministry reduced its stake below 50%. Creditors have yet to approve a debt-servicing plan. We’ll see.

  12. Avatar


    Friday, February 12, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    Air planes tickets endorsement, this is what l just read from internet and the international rules are very clear. When an airline cancels a flight the customer has the right to a full refound of the remaining value of the ticket. Refounds are on the same form as ticket purchase, cash or credit card. But Thai Airways endorsed the customers with vouchers … amazing Thailand

  13. Avatar

    Amy Sukwan

    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 10:31 am

    A debt jubilee is in order. Since they can print money out of thin air I’m not sure why it’s taking so long. An attempt to salvage legitimacy perhaps?

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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