Thai Airways eyeing lease of jets and staff
Loss-making carrier mulls fleet options
Thai Airways International (THAI) may lease aircraft along with cabin staff as part of fleet and service improvement options, according to Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.
The national carrier plans to procure 38 planes with its budget of 156 billion baht. However, it remains unclear whether the aircraft will be bought or leased.
On Wednesday, Mr Saksayam mulled the options of either leasing the planes with outsourced cabin attendants or leasing only the aircraft. He said he has instructed THAI to study the pros and cons of both options in line with the budget plan and flight routes.
The minister said he wanted the procurement issue finalised within this year.
He downplayed concerns that government regulations may not permit leasing aircraft with outsourced cabin staff. Regulations could be amended to remove obstacles, said Mr Saksayam, who also chairs the Civil Aviation Commission.
THAI president Sumeth Damrongchaitham said the airline was looking at ways of obtaining aircraft to suit its financial plan. All essential details were being considered, including the airline's current flight network and which aircraft models to purchase.
He explained that the airline had drawn up its aircraft procurement plan sometime ago and it had been revised by the board. In light of Mr Saksayam's directive, the plan will be updated to include a three-way comparison between aircraft purchase, aircraft leasing with outsourced cabin crew, and leasing without cabin staff.
A ministry source said another possible option was an aircraft swap. However, that proposition would require altering regulations related to the Procurement and Hire Act of the Comptroller General's Department.
The source said the aircraft swap would not involve selling old planes to buy new ones -- a lengthy process that comes with steep depreciation costs. The Royal Thai Air Force sealed a similar deal in which it traded aircraft for vehicles.
Also, 17 of the 82 aircraft in THAI's fleet are due to be decommissioned starting next year.
THAI suffered a steep net loss of 11.1 billion baht in the first nine months of last year.