Thai Lion Air wants help with stranded 737s
Costs mounting for parking grounded jets while Boeing seeks safety solutions
Thai Lion Air (TLA) is seeking support from Airports of Thailand Plc as accumulated parking fees for three Boeing 737 Max passenger jets grounded since March have begun snowballing.
Aswin Yangkirativorn, chief executive of TLA, plans to ask new Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob for a deal under which the airline would only have to shoulder the cost for four months.
TLA has three B737 Max planes in its fleet, with two currently stranded at Don Mueang airport and another stuck outside Thailand after Boeing grounded them in response to growing concerns about safety after two fatal crashes.
Boeing has yet to offer a solution to the problem, according to Mr Aswin.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) acknowledged the proposal after a discussion with TLA recently but no decision has been made yet.
Thus, TLA would like to hold talks with the new minister to share this problem along with other concerns such as a call for decreasing excise tax on jet fuel, he said.
Due to increased competition, all airlines have suffered from high fuel costs since the second half of last year, the TLA chief claimed.
"The situation has eased this year with the global market oil price going down to US$65 [about 2,000 baht] per barrel, but other negative factors such as a stronger baht are still affecting our bottom line," Mr Aswin said.
"When the CAAT introduced a price ceiling for low-cost carriers, we were happy to follow the policy. However, as the aviation business is in a difficult situation, I hope the new government will listen to us and help to find solutions," Mr Aswin said.
With new terminals in the pipeline, TLA hopes the Transport Ministry will improve Don Mueang airport's facilities to match what it says are among the highest airport fees in the world.
Mr Aswin said airlines are prepared to pay high prices if the services airports in Thailand offer reflect this.