Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) is expected to post a loss of around 2.2 billion baht this year, significantly less than its initially projected 10 billion baht in losses, according to Sumeth Damrongchaitham.
Mr Sumeth said on Tuesday he expected this year's losses to narrow to 2.2 billion baht compared with 3.6 billion baht for the whole of last year. Next year, the national carrier aims to increase the available seat kilometres (ASK), the industry's measure of its passenger carrying capacity, by 2-3%.
The ASK is calculated by multiplying the number of seats available by the number of miles or kilometres flown. Mr Sumeth said the boost would be achieved by raising the number of hours of usage and productivity of THAI Smile aircraft from eight hours at present to 10 hours and 30 minutes per day. The low-cost carrier THAI Smile is a wholly owned subsidiary of THAI.
The usage and productivity hours THAI's fleet will also ramp up to 12 hours and 30 minutes per aircraft per day, from their present usage of 12 hours and 15 minutes per day. At the same time, Mr Sumeth said THAI will be working to improve its load factor to at least 80%. The factor measures the percentage of available seating capacity regularly filled by passengers.
He added that the national carrier is on track to receive three new aircraft in the last quarter of next year. Those aircraft will replace existing planes. The airline is also planning to open a new direct route from Bangkok to Manchester, England, Mr Sumeth. Promotional sales campaigns will be launched to stimulate online spending by members of Royal Orchid Plus, the airline's loyalty programme.
The programme has about 3 million registered subscribers, he said, adding that THAI aims to attract more subscribers while giving existing members more incentives to spend. Meanwhile, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the agency and THAI are joining forces to draw more overseas tourists to Thailand.